I just wanted to take a moment to remind every one to make sure your pet’s rabies vaccinations are up to date. We did have a positive case of rabies in a skunk reported in Morse, TX.
Rabies is a fatal disease of warm-blooded animals, which means it can not only affect our pets and livestock, but humans as well. Vaccinations are inexpensive and effective, but they must be administered by a licensed veterinarian (to pets) to be considered legal in the state of Texas. Exposed people must undergo a very expensive series of vaccinations and injections of immunoglobulins. Exposed pets, even if vaccinated, must also be revaccinated and quarantined. Unvaccinated pets often must be euthanized.
This highlights the importance of having your pets properly vaccinated, and keeping them securely enclosed. Please also beware of wild or free-roaming animals, as they could be carrying the virus. Especially beware of skunks you may see out during daylight hours, or any animal that is not behaving normally.
I fear one of the greatest risks in our area is feral cat populations or people who maintain unvaccinated “barn cats,” which often are too feral to handle. These animals often share resources (food, water, shelter, etc) with wild animals which makes them much more likely to contact a rabid skunk or animal, and the event is less likely to be witnessed.
Texas state law requires all dogs and cats be vaccinated for rabies by 4 months of age, and the vaccine can be given to animals as young as 12 weeks of age. Animals that are vaccinated for the first time will be issued a 1 year license, and once boostered the following year, they are considered to be protected for 3 years.
If your pet kills a skunk or is exposed to a potentially rabid animal, call your veterinarian immediately to evaluate the best course of action. If you are unsure of your pet’s status, contact your veterinarian.