Smith County officials are urging residents to be extra cautious around wild animals following a recent rabies incident involving skunks near Hideaway.
Two skunks have tested positive for the disease, said Smith County Public Information officer Casey Murphy, adding that these two animals were shot on Wednesday April 18 and on Thursday, April 19 because they were acting strange.
Smith County Animal Control Coordinator Le’Kisha Stinecipher said a resident living off of County Road 434, just west of Hideaway, shot the skunks.
The dead animals were sent to the Texas Department of State Health Services, which confirmed the positive rabies test.
Animal control officials are urging county residents to take care around animals, especially nocturnal animals, especially when they are acting in an odd manner.
Behavior traits to be aware of, Stinecipher said, include stumbling around during the day.
If you suspect an animal might have rabies, you are urged to call the Smith County Animal Shelter at 903-266-4303 and ask to speak to an animal control officer or local rabies authority.
People are infected with rabies virus after being bitten by an animal with the disease or come in contact with the animal’s saliva.
Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services offer these steps in the event you have been bitten by a rabid animal:
-- 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.
By law, all dogs and cats must be vaccinated for rabies. TDSHS officials say pets must not be allowed to roam and owners should avoid all contact with wild animals and with dogs and cats you do not know.
Behavior changes in dogs can range from friendly dogs wanting to be alone and a shy dog wanting attention. Rabid dogs often become mean, they will roam, make strange noises and attack people and other animals.
For more information, log on to dshs.texas.gov