County confirms rabid skunks in southeast area

October 4, 2019

 

Residents in the Birmingham/Bloomfield area are advised to beware of a notable increase in rabid skunks in southeast Oakland County, as the county health division recently confirmed cases of rabies in dead skunks found in Southfield and Troy.

The Oakland County Health Division on Friday, September 27, said that two new cases of rabies in skunks were discovered in the two municipalities, which border the Birmingham/Bloomfield area. Health officials urge residents to avoid wild animals such as skunks, bats, raccoons, fox and stray cats and dogs.

"Rabies is present in our communities,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County. "Avoid contact with all wild animals and get your pets vaccinated."

Stafford said that if a wild animal is behaving strangely to call local animal control for assistance. Strange behavior may include having problems swallowing; exhibiting lots of drool or saliva; appearing tamer than expected; biting at everything; having trouble moving or is paralyzed.

If a person or pet is bitten by any wild animal or animal unknown to the owner, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical or veterinary attention immediately. To report an animal bite, call the health division at 248.858.1286.

A person bitten or scratched by a rabid animal may be protected by the rabies vaccines. The virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and is spread through bites or scratches. Rabies isn't spread through a skunk's spray.

The health division recommends the following steps to protect against rabies: have pets vaccinated regularly; don't handle stray or dead animals; use a leash when walking dogs or keep them in a fenced-in yard; don't leave food or water outside for pets when unattended; and keep garbage covered to avoid attracting wild and stray animals.

Bats and skunks are the most common carriers of rabies in Michigan. In 2019, rabies has been confirmed in four bats and six skunks in Oakland County. Warmer weather months create opportunities for outdoor activities and increase the chance of wildlife encounters with humans or pets.

For more information about rabies contact the health division's website at oakgov.com/health or contact the Nurse on Call at 800.848.5533 or noc@oakgov.com. Nurse on Call is available 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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