A skunk in Los Angeles County tested positive for rabies for the first time since 1979.
The Department of Health and Human Services of Long Beach confirmed that the skunk found on June 26 near Snowden Avenue and Wentworth Street tested positive for rabies, making it the first in L.A. County in 35 years. Bats were also tested positive for rabies in recent years.
A woman reportedly saw the animal in the East Long Beach neighborhood and observed its erratic behavior. She immediately notified animal control which said that the woman didn't touch the skunk. Authorities say that a state lab is currently determining how the animal got the disease but they suspect a bat may have bitten it. Eighty percent of rabies cases in the state are bats which could be host to a specific virus strain in skunks.
The skunk is the first rabid one in the county since 1979, but there have been some found in northern and central California in more recent years, including a dead one that tested positive for rabies in Monterey County last June. The Animal Care Services captured the skunk and brought it to the Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Laboratory for testing. Authorities said they are still unaware of any animal or human contact with the rabid skunk.
The rabies virus causes severe brain infestation in humans and mammals. It is almost 100 percent fatal when symptoms appear. Infected animals infect humans by biting them or coming in contact with its saliva. Skunks with rabies appear to be disoriented with crusty noses and eyes. Skunks are nocturnal animals but they come out during the day sometimes.
The Health Department and Animal Care Services recommends that pet owners take extra caution to make sure their pets don't become infected. They advise the public to keep dogs on a leash while walking them out, avoid wild animal contact, avoid touching sick animals and teach kids to not touch unfamiliar animals. Those who are bitten by any animal should see a doctor immediately and any wound from any animal should be thoroughly washed with water and soap.