Rabies confirmed around Burnet County



Article Image Alt Text

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

The weather is warm and flowers are blooming, but heading into the great out of doors warrants caution about snakes and wildlife.

Already this year in Burnet County, two people have been bitten by rattlesnakes and now rabies alerts are being raised.

Meadowlakes was the first city in the area to report positive tests for rabies on skunks in the city limits and reports have followed on animals contained in Marble Falls and Burnet.

In 2018 Burnet County has risen already into the 7-10 rabies case category of the Texas Department of State Health Services (TSHS), including skunks, foxes, a raccoon and even a cat in various parts of the county.

The animal in Marble Falls was captured March 22 in the 800 block of Avenue F and in Burnet one was found on John Hoover Parkway March 27. In Meadowlakes they were found in several locations, including Hidden Falls Golf Course.

First and foremost, cities are warning residents to be sure their pets are vaccinated agains rabies.

Secondly, remember not to approach a wild animal behaving strangely, especially if it is aggressive or shows not fear to humans. This could include looking “drunk” or unstable. In Marble Falls, animal services observed the skunk they found to be staggering and pushing its face across the ground.

Thirdly, Call animal services, animal control, the police department or the sheriff's office when a questionable animal is spotted.

“Don't feed any stray or feral animals,” advises Marble Falls Animal Services. “Don't feed your pets outside or leave food out after your pets have eaten. This often will attract wildlife that is known to carry rabies.”

Rabies is fatal for all mammals, including humans, if left untreated.

According to the TSHS, you can be infected with the rabies virus if you are bitten by an animal that has the disease.

“You can also get rabies if the saliva from a rabid animal gets in your eyes, nose, or mouth,” the agency cautions. “This can happen if you get saliva on your fingers and then touch your face. Another way you can get rabies is by having the saliva of a rabid animal contact open cuts on your skin. If you have such contact with a rabid animal, only a series of shots can keep you from getting the disease.

“For this treatment to work well, it must be given soon after contact with the rabid animal.

If an animal bites you, these steps from the health department may save your life:

  • Quickly and thoroughly wash the bite with soap and water. Rinse it well. Put an antiseptic on it to kill germs.

  • See a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will decide if you need treatment to prevent rabies.

  • Describe the animal that bit you – the kind, size, and color – to the doctor, local rabies control authority, or animal control officer. Tell children to get help from a teacher, nurse, parent, policeman, school guard, or other adult.

  • Try to locate the animal or keep track of it if you know where it lives. Remember what it looked like and where it can be found.

  • The local rabies control authority needs to have any biting dog, cat, or domestic ferret tested for rabies or observed for 10 days. If the quarantined dog, cat, or domestic ferret is alive 10 days after the bite, it could not have given you rabies. If the animal shows signs of rabies or dies during the observation period, it must be tested for rabies.

  • Biting skunks, bats, foxes, coyotes, and raccoons must be tested for rabies. If you are bitten by another kind of animal, the local rabies control authority will decide if it needs to be tested or observed for rabies.

Visit www.dshs.texas.gov for more information or use this link, bit.ly/2H4C0qN for more information about rabies and prevention. Tips for children can be found at www.cdc.gov/rabiesandkids.

Snake bites

Four types of poisonous snakes are found in Central Texas, rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouth moccasins and coral snakes. Many snakes will bite when disturbed, but the bites of venomous snakes that require treatment are specific to the toxin of each one.

For that reason, it is important to be able to tell first responders and emergency room personnel what kind of snake has bitten the victim. A venomous snake bite requires immediate treatment. Call 9-1-1.

Just as with any wild creature, children must know not to approach a snake. Help in teaching them to identify poisonous snakes can be found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website, www.tpwd.texas.gov/kids/wild_things/wildlife/snakes.phtml

Rabies factoids

Rabies factoids from the Texas Department of Health Services:

Rabies - sometimes called "hydrophobia" - has its roots in antiquity. Centuries before the birth of Christ, it was recognized in both animals and man. Cases were described with amazing clinical accuracy during the lifetime of Aristotle. The name hydrophobia, meaning "fear of water," was given to it at that time because the ancient Greeks observed rabid animals' aversion to water. Actually, the truth is that they cannot drink because of throat paralysis. It is this fact which produces the classic picture of a beast with foam-flecked jaws. Saliva accumulates in the paralyzed throat and drools from the corners of the mouth, giving the impression of mad-dog foam. Certainly it isn't hard to understand why those ancient people were terror stricken by such a sight, and even thought the animal was demon-possessed. Writers of the day attributed rabies to an invasion of the body by a evil spirit.

Contrary to popular belief, rabies is not confined to the so-called "dogdays" of July and August. Most cases in Texas occur in the spring, probably because there are more opportunities for transmissions during the spring mating seasons of wild carnivores. Rabies does occur through the entire year in Texas in both wild and domestic animals. Rabies in bats occurs mostly in the warmer months.

All warm-blooded animals, including humans, are susceptible to rabies. In Texas, skunks, bats, coyotes, and foxes are the most commonly infected animals. This does not mean that wildlife eradication campaigns should be started. Wild species are highly beneficial in keeping pests under control, but it is wise to realize that they can carry rabies, and that contact with them should be avoided at all times-especially with those which are obviously sick.

Domestic dogs, cats, and livestock usually acquire rabies infections from wild animals; while the numbers of rabid domestic animals are fewer, their danger is greater because of their close association with humans.

A common distribution pattern is for a rabid skunk or fox to bite and infect one or more dogs or cats during a fearless invasion into a community. The disease develops in the domestic animals along with the threat of their transferring the infection to other pets and perhaps humans. Children-because of their closer association with the pets- are most often the human victims. This rapid spread is possible only in unvaccinated pets.

If an infected fox or skunk gets into a barnyard, it may bite and infect the farm dog, cat or other livestock.

As a matter of interest, a fox can be 20 times as serious a distributing agent as a skunk since it travels faster and farther; skunks however, have more rabies virus in their saliva.

Rate this article: 
Average: 3.5 (2 votes)