Jones said that on Wednesday a skunk climbed into the pen of two beagle puppies just off Airport Road in Jefferson. Neighbors were to be alerted to this situation, and pet owners are encouraged to have their pets vaccinated against rabies.
Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
To help prevent rabies:
1. Visit your veterinarian with your pet on a regular basis and keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs. North Carolina rabies law requires that all owned dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies by four months of age. One shot is not enough; rabies vaccinations must be kept current (talk to your veterinarian about when your pet needs its rabies booster shots).
2. Maintain control of your pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
3. Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or vaccinated regularly.
4. Call animal control to remove all stray animals from your neighborhood since these animals may be unvaccinated or ill. Ashe County Animal Control is 982-4060. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. For an after hours emergency, please call 336-219-2603 or 911.
The second annual World Rabies Day Webinar will be held Sept. 21-22, 2011. A Webinar brings together noted leaders in rabies research, One-Health advocates, professionals, students and World Rabies Day event planners to discuss the important public health issue of rabies while providing a forum for dialogue within and across disciplines.
For more information, go to www.cdc.gov.