The first skunk to be confirmed positive for rabies in Los Angeles County since 1979 was found in East Long Beach, officials said on June 27.
A woman in the 90815 ZIP code of East Long Beach contacted the City’s Animal Care Services Thursday to report a skunk behaving erratically. Animal care officers took the skunk to the Long Beach Dept. of Health Services laboratory for testing which confirmed it had rabies, officials said.
The woman handled the situation correctly by not attempting to pick up or capture the skunk, officials said. Officials said they are not aware of any human contact with the skunk.
“Residents need to avoid any contact with wildlife and ensure their domestic pets are vaccinated for rabies to avoid the disease being passed to humans,” said Dr. Mitchell Kushner, Long Beach health officer.
While skunks in the area have tested positive for rabies in past years, this is the first confirmed case of a skunk with rabies in Los Angeles County since 1979, officials said. Further testing was continuing at a state lab to determine the strain of rabies, they said.
Rabies is a virus that causes a severe brain infection in mammals and humans that is nearly 100 percent fatal once symptoms appear, officials said.
Any mammal can be infected with rabies, but it is most commonly found in California bats, skunks and foxes, they said.
Humans can become infected from a bite from an infected animal or through contact with the saliva of an infected animal, officials said.
Infection can be effectively prevented with prompt medical treatment, they said.
Symptoms of rabid skunks include crusty eyes and noses, disorientation, staggering, excessive salivation, and aggressive behavior, they said.
Skunks are nocturnal but it is not unusual for urban skunks to be out during daylight hours, officials said.
The Long Beach Health Dept. and Animal Care Services suggest tips to prevent rabies:
– Vaccinate dogs and cats protects them and you.
– Restrain your pets. Do not allow them to roam. Keep dogs on a leash when outside of your property.
– Avoid contact with wild animals and dogs and cats you do not know.
– Do not touch sick or injured animals. Report them to your local animal care services.
– Do not try to hand-feed wild animals and do not keep them as pets.
– Teach children to never touch unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they seem friendly.
– Wash any animal bite thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.