The City of Long Beach Health Officer reminds residents to
vaccinate their pets and avoid contact with wild animals following
confirmation of a case of rabies. The Long Beach Department of
Health and Human Services (LBDHHS) confirmed a skunk found on
Thursday, June 26, 2014 in the 90815 area of Long Beach tested
positive for rabies. The person who notified authorities about the
skunk handled the situation correctly; she made no attempt to pick
up or capture the animal, and immediately called Long Beach Animal
Care Services (ACS) officials to remove the skunk after she noticed
erratic behavior by the animal. The skunk was taken by ACS officers
to the LBDHHS Public Health Laboratory for testing. At this time,
officials are not aware of any human contact with the skunk.
While skunks in the area have tested positive for rabies in past
years, this is the first confirmed case of rabies for a skunk in
Los Angeles County since 1979. Further testing is being done at the
State lab to determine the strain of rabies. "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,"
says Dr. Kushner.
Rabies is a virus that causes a severe brain infection in mammals
and humans that is nearly 100 percent fatal once symptoms appear.
Infection, however, can be effectively prevented with prompt
medical treatment. Any mammal can be infected with rabies. In
California, the disease is most commonly found in bats, skunks, and
foxes. Humans can become infected through bites from an infected
animal, or through contact with the saliva of an infected
Skunks are naturally nocturnal animals; however, it's not unusual
to see an urban skunk during daylight hours. Symptoms of rabid
skunks include crusty eyes and noses, disorientation, and
staggering. Other signs of rabies include excessive
salivation and aggressive behavior.
The Health Department and Animal Care Services share the following
tips to help prevent rabies:
- Vaccinate your dogs and cats. Keeping your pets
vaccinated protects you and them; unvaccinated pets that come into
contact with a rabid skunk, bat, or other animal may need to be
euthanized or quarantined for up to six months.
- 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 with dogs and cats you do
not know. Do not try to hand-feed wild animals and do not
keep them as pets.
- Do not touch sick or injured animals. Report sick or
injured animals to Animal Care Services at 562-570-7387.
- Teach children to never touch unfamiliar animals, wild or
domestic, even if they seem friendly.
- Wash any wound from an animal bite thoroughly with soap and
water; seek medical attention immediately.
For more information on rabies, call Long Beach Animal Care
Services at 562-570-7387 or visit www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies