First Rabid Skunk in L.A. County Found in 35 Years

The skunk was tested after it was reported to Long Beach Animal Care Services exhibiting erratic behavior

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    In California rabies is most commonly found in bats, skunks and foxes.

    A skunk in Long Beach tested positive for rabies in the first confirmed case in Los Angeles County since 1979, city officials said.

    The skunk was tested after it was reported to Long Beach Animal Care Services on Thursday exhibiting erratic behavior, officials said.

    Officials said they are not aware of any human contact with the skunk.

    Any mammal can be infected by rabies, but in California the disease is most commonly found in bats, skunks and foxes, officials said.

    Humans can contract the disease through bites or saliva from an infected animal.

    "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, a city health officer.

    According to authorities symptoms of rabid skunks include crusty eyes and noses, disorientation and staggering. Other signs of rabies include excessive salivation and aggressive behavior.

    Rabies is a viral infection that leads to encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, along with the more well-known symptoms of paralysis, spasms and the inability to drink water.

    Symptoms for the disease usually present themselves one to three months after infection, but after they do, the disease is nearly always fatal.

    City officials advised citizens to vaccinate and leash their pets and avoid contact with wild animals.

    In addition, officials said that people should not touch injured or sick animals and instead report them to appropriate authorities.

    If an animal bite does happen, authorities said to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.

    The World Health Organization says while roughly 55,000 people worldwide die of rabies annually, this is generally centered in Asia and Africa. In the United States, only one or two rabies deaths per year are reported.

    The CDC attributes this to the nearly 100 percent effectiveness of the rabies vaccine when administered promptly after infection.