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One of the biggest myths that has developed around the rabies disease over recent years is that it is a condition that is carried by all skunks, but this is far from the truth, although there is a proportion of the species that does carry rabies. This is not to say that you shouldn't be careful around skunks, as their scratches and bites can transmit diseases, while their famous spray is enough to repulse even those who have the strongest stomachs. By being sensible and dealing with the wild animal as you would any other potentially dangerous animal, then your chances of catching rabies from a skunk are very small indeed.
The Proportion Of Skunks Carrying Rabies
Because there are so many skunks to be found across the country, and only a small number of these are ever tested for the disease, it is difficult to provide accurate figures for the number of skunks carrying rabies. One survey carried out in California on all animals encountered, rather than just those suspected of carrying rabies found that around six per cent of all skunks carried rabies. As a proportion of the carriers of rabies in the United States, skunks are the third largest reservoir of rabies in the country, with around 24.6% of all animals providing a positive test for rabies being skunks, with only raccoons and bats providing a greater proportion.
Signs A Skunk May Have Rabies
While not all skunks have rabies, it is worth knowing a few of the signs that the skunk may be carrying the disease. An aversion to water is a symptom that is seen in many different species including the skunk, while a build up of froth around the mouth of the animal can also be a key sign that the skunk is rabid. Acting erratically with unusual activity patterns can also be a sign that the skunk is rabid.
What To Do If You Are Concerned About A Particular Animal
The first step is to inform your local animal services department that there may be a rabid skunk in the area, and make sure you report any symptoms that may indicate the animal is rabid. You should also ensure that you stay well away from the skunk itself, as even a scratch or a bite from the animal can be enough to transmit the disease, so stay back and do not try to engage in any kind of confrontation with the animal.
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does skunk removal cost?
- get the lowdown on prices.
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- my main skunk removal info guide.