Rabid skunk prompts safety reminder from Public Health

Published Dec. 21, 2022

A skunk found in a residential back yard in Placer County has tested positive for rabies, prompting Placer County Public Health to remind residents about the importance of vaccinating dogs for rabies and avoiding contact with wild animals.

“While in this case thankfully no people were exposed, it is a good opportunity to remind folks to exercise caution around wild animals — even those that might seem friendly or in need of help,” said Public Health Director Meghan Marshall. “That goes for skunks, bats, raccoons, foxes and other wild animals as well.”

People and unvaccinated animals can get rabies through a bite from an infected animal. To reduce the risk of rabies, Placer County residents should respect wildlife and avoid contact with all wild animals as well as stray or unfamiliar animals. Any animal that seems sick, disoriented or unusually placid or aggressive should be reported by calling Animal Control (530-886-5500). Here are some additional safety tips:

  • Have dogs vaccinated regularly. This will protect them if exposed to animals with the disease and prevent them from becoming a carrier and infecting humans. 
  • Do not handle stray, wild, or dead animals. 
  • Keep pets indoors or supervised to limit their exposure to wild animals that may be rabid. 
  • Use a leash when walking dogs or keep them in a fenced-in yard. 
  • Do not feed or put water for pets outside 
  • Keep garbage securely covered, as these items may attract wild or stray animals.

The rabies virus is found in an animal’s saliva and is most often transmitted to people by a bite from a rabid animal. Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal. For that reason, preventive treatment to stop the rabies virus from causing illness is given to anyone who may have been exposed to rabies. Medical assistance should be obtained promptly after an exposure so any wound can be cleaned and preventive treatment can be started. This treatment is safe and effective.

If you are bitten by an animal, follow these steps:

  • Immediately wash the wound with soap and water and continue irrigating the wound for 10 to 15 minutes. This will help kill and remove any rabies virus that may have entered the wound. 
  • Contact your healthcare provider to see if you should be vaccinated. 
  • Fill out a bite report. If bitten by a domestic animal, try to get the pet owner’s name, address and phone number or get information for any person that may be able to identify the animal. If bitten by a wild animal, call 530-886-5500 to see if the animal can be captured and tested for rabies. 

More information about rabies is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.