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First Rabid Skunk Found in L.A. County Since 1979

A woman in the 90815 ZIP code of East Long Beach contacted the city's Animal Care Services Thursday to report a skunk behaving erratically.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

The first skunk to be confirmed positive for rabies in Los Angeles County since 1979 was found in East Long Beach, officials said today.

A woman in the 90815 ZIP code of East Long Beach contacted the city's Animal Care Services Thursday to report a skunk behaving erratically. Animal care officers took the skunk to the Long Beach Department of Health Services laboratory for testing which confirmed it had rabies, officials said.

The woman handled the situation correctly by not attempting to pick up or capture the skunk, officials said. Officials said they are not aware of any human contact with the skunk.

"Residents need to avoid any contact with wildlife and ensure their domestic pets are vaccinated for rabies to avoid the disease being passed to humans," said Dr. Mitchell Kushner, Long Beach health officer.

While skunks in the area have tested positive for rabies in past years, this is the first confirmed case of a skunk with rabies in Los Angeles County since 1979, officials said. Further testing was continuing at a state lab to determine the strain of rabies, they said.

Rabies is a virus that causes a severe brain infection in mammals and humans that is nearly 100 percent fatal once symptoms appear, officials said.

Any mammal can be infected with rabies, but it is most commonly found in California bats, skunks and foxes, they said.

Humans can become infected from a bite from an infected animal or through contact with the saliva of an infected animal, officials said. Infection can be effectively prevented with prompt medical treatment, they said.

Symptoms of rabid skunks include crusty eyes and noses, disorientation, staggering, excessive salivation and aggressive behavior, they said.

Skunks are nocturnal but it is not unusual for urban skunks to be out during daylight hours, officials said.

The Long Beach Health Department and Animal Care Services suggest tips to prevent rabies:

  • Vaccinate dogs and cats protects them and you
  • Restrain your pets. Do not allow them to roam. Keep dogs on a leash when outside of your property
  • Avoid contact with wild animals and dogs and cats you do not know
  • Do not touch sick or injured animals. Report them to your local animal care services
  • Do not try to hand-feed wild animals and do not keep them as pets
  • Teach children to never touch unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they seem friendly
  • Wash any animal bite thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately

More information on rabies is available by calling Long Beach Animal Care Services at (562) 570-7387 or visit www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies.

--City News Service


Thomas Langley June 28, 2014 at 10:56 AM
I have noticed skunk odor in 3 different areas in LB, the past few days.
robin June 28, 2014 at 05:33 PM
Skunks are everywhere... even in LB.
Nadja Adolf June 29, 2014 at 04:49 PM
Skunks can be infected with rabies at birth by carrier mothers and not manifest signs until they are under significant physical stress. I have never understood people foolish enough to feed raccoons and any wildlife other than birds, and I have never understood why people don't realize that leaving pet food outside is feeding wildlife and putting your pets at risk of parasites and infections.
Ken Lewis June 29, 2014 at 07:36 PM
First Rabid Skunk Found in L.A. County Since 1979 turned out to actually be a county politicion.
Steven Narbonne July 05, 2014 at 12:23 PM
I thought Jerry Brown was up north fund sucking up for his high speed rail travesty.

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