DESOTO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - With the recent uptick in rabid skunks, animal services are warning DeSoto Parish residents to stay alert.
According to DeSoto Parish Animal Services Director Harold Renfro, 4 of the 14 captured since February have tested positive for the viral disease. The animal captured Tuesday becomes the 15th. It is not clear yet whether it will be sent for rabies testing the state lab in Baton Rouge for testing.
Renfro says testing is usually done when there is an incident involving a human being bitten by a potentially rabid animal, or at the request of the state.
According to Renfro, this is the first year pets have been involved.
"Once [a pet] has been exposed to a confirmed rabid animal. It has to be isolated for 45 days," said Renfro. "They can't have contact with new people or pets."
Renfro highly recommends every pet owner to have their pet vaccinated.
Even if a yard is fenced, people should still keep a close eye on their children and pets.
"A rabid animal is not going to be scared to go in that backyard or go nose-to-nose with your animal through the fence," said Renfro.
Residents have been urged to take precautions, including making sure their pets are vaccinated and staying aware of wildlife acting abnormally. Symptoms of potentially rabid animals include:
- Wildlife that shows no fear of humans.
- Skunks out in daylight hours
- Bats on the ground or low walls
- Staggering or falling animals
- Wildlife that enters yard with pets
Officials say to avoid these habits:
- Never leave kids and pets unattended outdoors
- Never try to capture or pick up wildlife
Additionally, officials warn that if you would shoot a skunk, do not aim at the head in case it needs to be tested.
The best things to do are keeping pets vaccinated for rabies, report all sightings to animal control, be aware of skunks in the area and keep strays away from pets and children.