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Skunk attack highlights need for vaccinations
by Gary Kent
Feb 27, 2014 | 39 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE – Bee County Community Affairs Department Enforcement Officer Johnny Carabajal is urging all animal owners to get their dogs, cats and livestock vaccinated days after a case of rabies was confirmed in a skunk.

Carabajal said the rabies case was confirmed last week following Feb. 14 incident inside the Beeville city limits.

It was about 2:16 p.m. when a woman looked up to see the a skunk coming into her house through a pet door. Then the skunk attacked her dog, biting it in the mouth and dislodging a tooth.

The woman pushed the skunk out of the house, coming in contact with it. But she was not bitten.

The dog was taken to the Williams Veterinary Clinic on U.S. Highway 59 east of the city, and the woman was told to see a doctor.

Carabajal said he was told the dog had been vaccinated late last year, but the staff at Williams’ clinic gave the animal a rabies booster shot.

Carabajal said the dog will be kept in isolation and observed for 45 days.

The officer was not sure what kind of treatment the woman was undergoing.

Carabajal said the only way animal owners can be sure their pets and livestock are protected is to get them vaccinated for rabies as quickly as possible.

Skunks are a common carrier of rabies. But other wild animals in South Texas have been found rabid over the years.

That includes bats, foxes, coyotes, raccoons and just about any other warmblooded mammal or rodent.

Cats and dogs can easily be infected by the disease because they are hunters and will attack a rabid wild animal.

Then cats and dogs can come in contact with livestock and humans. Rabies is fatal in almost any animal it infects unless the animal has been vaccinated.

Carabajal said he is contacting every veterinarian in Bee County now to try to arrange low-cost rabies clinics where residents may take their animals and have them vaccinated for the disease at a reduced cost.

The officer said he was told that a bat found in Refugio County late last year also had tested positive for rabies.

The last-known case of confirmed rabies in Bee County was in 1989, Carabajal said.

He said he has contacted health and community affairs officials in every county surrounding Bee County.

Any case of confirmed rabies in this area is reason for concern. At one time state officials launched a program of vaccinating wild animals throughout South Texas by dropping food items similar to dog biscuits from airplanes. The items contained an oral dose of rabies vaccine. That program effectively reduced the number of rabies cases reported in South Texas.

The officer recommended that any animal that might come in contact with humans be vaccinated as soon as possible.

That would include all dogs and cats and livestock, including horses, show cattle and some goats and sheep. Human contact is the important factor in deciding which animals to vaccinate.

If an animal is likely to come into contact with humans, it is imperative that the animal be vaccinated.

Carabajal said he will announce the dates of any special rabies clinics organized between his office, the city of Beeville’s Animal Control Department and local veterinarians.

He especially urged anyone living outside the city to have their pets vaccinated.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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