Rabies confirmed in additional skunks from Southfield and Farmington Hills

October 10, 2019

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Oakland County Health Division received confirmation on October 9 of two new rabies cases in skunks removed from Southfield and Farmington Hills. In 2019, rabies has been verified in four bats and eight skunks in Oakland County. Residents are urged to avoid wild animals such as skunks, bats, raccoons, foxes, and stray cats and dogs to protect against rabies.

If you or your household pet is bitten by any wild animal or an animal unknown to you, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical or veterinary attention immediately.

To report a suspected rabid animal or animal bite, call the Southfield Police Department at (248) 796-5500 and then notify the Oakland County Health Division at (248) 858-1286.

If a human has been bitten or scratched by a rabid animal, disease prevention includes rabies vaccines which are effective. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and is spread through bites or scratches. Rabies is not spread through a skunk’s spray.

Follow these simple steps to protect against rabies:

  • Have pets vaccinated regularly. This will protect them if exposed to animals with the disease and prevent them from becoming ill and infecting humans.
  • Do not handle stray, wild, or dead animals.
  • Keep pets indoors or supervised to limit their exposure to wild animals that may be rabid.
  • Use a leash when walking dogs or keep them in a fenced-in yard.
  • Do not leave food or water outside for pets when unattended.
  • Keep garbage securely covered, as these items may attract wild or stray animals.

Call Southfield Animal Control at (248) 796-5410 or the Police Department at (248) 796-5500 if an animal is acting strangely, including:

  • Having problems swallowing; 
  • Exhibiting lots of drool or saliva;
  • Appearing tamer than you would expect; 
  • Biting at everything; and 
  • Having trouble moving or is paralyzed.

Bats and skunks are the most common carriers of rabies in Michigan; however, it cannot be spread through a skunk’s spray. Symptoms of rabies infection include problems swallowing, slow or unusual movement, and excessive drooling. Wild animals with rabies will show no fear toward humans and may act aggressively. The warmer weather months create opportunities for outdoor activities in Michigan and increases the chance of wildlife encounters with humans or pets. Rabies can be fatal to humans; however, death can be prevented if people get a vaccine immediately after they are exposed to the disease. 

More information about rabies can be found on the Health Division’s website at oakgov.com/health or by contacting Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 or noc@oakgov.com. Nurse on Call is available 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.