Skunk, bat test positive for rabies in Monterey County

SALINAS — The Monterey County Health Department reported Friday evening that two wild animals have tested positive for the rabies virus in the past two weeks.

A skunk found on Tuesday near East Romie Lane in Salinas tested positive for rabies. That comes after a Mexican freetail bat in the Chualar Canyon area in unincorporated Monterey County was confirmed positive for rabies on April 22. Monterey County Animal Services investigated both incidents and determined that while there was exposure to owned pets, there was no human exposure in either case.

Monterey County Animal Services and the Health Department reminded the public in a press release Friday that there is a continuous presence of rabies in local wildlife, both in and out of city limits. In Monterey County, commonly seen skunks and bats are the most common species to test positive for the virus.

Domestic animals, including companion dogs and cats, are at risk for rabies in Monterey County, which is why county ordinance (MCC 8.08.010) and Salinas city code (SCC 7-5) require all dogs and cats over 4 months of age to be currently vaccinated against rabies. Domestic animals are at increased risk of rabies if they are not protected by a rabies vaccination and if they are allowed to contact wildlife.

Monterey County Animal Services provided tips, in addition to vaccination, to protect pets and other domesticated animals from rabies:

• Owners should avoid leaving their pets outside unattended, particularly at dawn and dusk when wildlife can be most active.

• Owners of domestic livestock species such as horses, sheep, goats, pigs and cattle should discuss rabies vaccinations with their veterinarian as these species are also susceptible to rabies infections from rabid wild animals.

• Residents should avoid leaving pet food and water outside because it encourages wildlife activity around the home.

• People should avoid contact with wildlife, particularly skunks and bats at all times. Do not touch or approach animals acting strangely. If any wild animals are found dead, acting abnormally or ill, or if you think you or your pets have been exposed to rabies, contact Monterey County Animal Services at (831) 769-8850 or your local animal control agency.

More information about rabies is available by calling the Monterey County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Unit at 831-755-4521 or by visiting the Animal Services’ website (www.hitchcockroadanimals.org) or visiting cdc.gov/rabies/.

Contributed by local news sources

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