The Oakland County Health Division on Wednesday, April 18, issued a warning to residents about a confirmed case of rabies in a skunk that was removed from Rochester Hills.
Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for the county health division, urged residents to stay away from wild animals such as skunks, bats, raccoons, foxes and stray cats and dogs.
"Our natural instinct is to befriend and pet an animal that seems friendly or help one that is injured," Stafford said. "But as a rule, avoid stray and wild animals to protect yourself against rabies."
Stafford advised that if an animal is found to be behaving strangely, call the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center at 248.391.4102 for assistance. If bitten by any wild animal or animal unknown to you, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. To report an animal bite, call the Health Division at 248.858.1286.
"Rabies is present in our communities and is most often found in bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes," Stafford said. "People and their pets need to be careful to avoid encounters with unfamiliar animals."
The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and is spread through bites or scratches. There are simple steps everyone can take to protect themselves from rabies: have pets vaccinated regularly; don't handle stray, wild or dead animals; and call local animal control experts if an animal is acting strangely, including having problems swallowing, exhibiting excess saliva, biting at everything, or having trouble moving.
The Health Division also suggested keeping pets indoors or supervised to limit their exposure to wild animals; using a leash when walking dogs or keep them in a fenced yard; not feeding or putting water outside for pets; and keeping garbage securely covered.