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Don’t get skunked
by Chip Latcham
Jun 14, 2014 | 248 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After an unusually cooler, wetter end of spring, the dog days of summer are fast approaching.

And this year, in addition to the stifling heat and mosquitoes, we have something else to watch out for in the Coastal Bend.

This week, San Patricio County health officials were encouraging residents to have their pets vaccinated against rabies after two skunks recently tested positive for the deadly disease near Lake Corpus Christi.

“Skunks come in contact with dogs and cats, so we’re really emphasizing the need for people to make sure they’re vaccinated properly,” the San Pat medical director said in Thursday’s Caller-Times.

His department also recommends rabies vaccinations for horses and livestock that can come in contact with rabid skunks and frequently with people.

If this warning sounds familiar, that’s because it is.

Just four months ago, Johnny Carabajal, then Bee County’s Community Affairs Department enforcement officer, was urging all animal owners to get their dogs, cats and livestock vaccinated days after a case of rabies was confirmed in a skunk.

That rabies case was confirmed following a Feb. 14 incident inside the Beeville city limits in which a woman saw a skunk entering her house through a pet door in the afternoon. The skunk then attacked her dog, biting it in the mouth, before the woman pushed the animal out of her house but was not bitten.

Her dog had been vaccinated and was given a rabies booster shot, and the woman was told to see her doctor. They were fortunate.

Rabies is fatal in almost any animal it infects unless the animal has been vaccinated. It also can be fatal for humans unless treated quickly.

Carabajal said the only way animal owners can be sure their pets and livestock are protected is to get them vaccinated for rabies as soon as possible.

Skunks are a common carrier of rabies. But other wild animals in South Texas have been found rabid – including bats, foxes, coyotes, raccoons and other warmblooded mammals.

Pet owners, whether residing in the city or country, keep your animals in enclosed yards or pens, and try to make sure your cats and dogs do not come in contact with a rabid wild animal.

Most of all, be certain all your pets are vaccinated. – Chip Latcham
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