OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Oakland County Health Division Friday confirmed a case of rabies in a skunk removed from Rochester Hills.
Officials are strongly urging residents to reduce their exposure to the virus by staying away from wild animals such as skunks, raccoons, foxes, stray cats and dogs.
"Our instinct is to befriend and pet an animal that seems friendly or help one that is injured,” said LeighAnne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County. “But as a rule, avoid stray and wild animals to protect yourself against rabies.”
Call the Oakland County Animal Shelter at (248) 858-1070 to report a wild animal found behaving strangely. If you or your pet is bitten by any wild animal, wash the affected area with soap and water and seek medical or veterinary attention immediately.
“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 and avoid encounters with unfamiliar animals.”
The virus is found in the saliva of the infected animal and is spread through bites and scratches. The Health Division provided these steps to protect your family and yourself:
- Have pets vaccinated regularly. This will protect them if exposed to animals with the disease and prevent them from becoming a carrier and infecting humans.
- Do not handle stray, wild, or dead animals.
- Call local animal control experts for help if an animal is acting strangely, including: having problems swallowing, exhibiting lots of drool or saliva, appearing tamer than you would expect, biting at everything, having trouble moving or is paralyzed
- Keep pets indoors or supervised to limit their exposure to wild animals that may be rabid.
- Use a leash when walking dogs or keep them in a fenced-in yard.
- Do not feed or put water for pets outside
- Keep garbage securely covered, as these items may attract wild or stray animals.
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