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Reports of rabid skunks increase in Sheridan County

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Via the Wyoming News Exchange

SHERIDAN (WNE) — As of May 22, a total of nine skunks have tested positive for Rabies virus in Sheridan County. To the knowledge of Sheridan County Public Health Public Information Officer Edward Hinzman, no other Wyoming county has reported a single Rabies-positive animal.

The Rabies virus can infect any mammal, including humans, cats, dogs, horses and livestock, although skunks and bats are the primary hosts of the virus in Sheridan County and throughout Wyoming. Transmission occurs primarily through a bite mark when infected saliva is introduced into the bite wound.

Rabies virus infects and affects the brain, nervous tissues and salivary glands of the host animal, inducing paralysis and ultimately death. Symptoms may include aggressive or agitated behavior, excessive drooling or saliva production, staggering gait, seizures and other “not normal” animal mannerisms, although it should be noted not all infected animals will display symptoms.

General tips for reducing exposure to Rabies virus include the following:

• Be wary of any animals acting unnatural including usually nocturnal animals wandering around during the day, animals meandering aimlessly without regard to humans or other animals ,or animals displaying aggressive behavior.

• Vaccinate dogs, cats, horses and other selected livestock for Rabies and keep the vaccinations up-to-date.

• Teach children to never approach unfamiliar dogs, cats or wildlife, even if the animal appears friendly.

• People waking to find a bat in their room or a child’s room should contact a medical professional immediately. Bats have extremely small teeth and bite marks may go undetected. Unknown or minor contact with bats has been known to lead to Rabies infection.

•Treat all animal bites with soap and warm water. Contact a medical professional immediately. Document all available information about the suspicious animal and possible location.

This story was published on May 24, 2024.

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