DETROIT – The Wayne County Public Health Division (WCPHD) is notifying the public of three confirmed cases of rabies in skunks in Livonia. No people or pets are known to have been exposed at this time and human exposure to the skunks is uncommon. However, out of caution, the WCPHD strongly urges all residents to avoid unfamiliar animals including stray, wild and dead animals and to vaccinate all domestic animals for rabies.
The recent positive cases highlight the need to remind residents to take the proper precautions to protect themselves and their pets. Rabies is a fatal, but preventable viral disease that infects the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. It is primarily transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal, most commonly bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential exposure to rabies, the virus can infect the brain and result in death.
Follow these steps to protect yourself and your pets from rabies:
- Ensure that all pets, including dogs and cats, stay up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
- Avoid contact including handling, feeding or attracting unfamiliar, stray, wild or dead animals.
- Keep pets indoors, supervise when outside and always use a leash when walking to limit their exposure to wild animals that may be rabid.
- Do not leave food or water outside for pets when unattended.
- Keep garbage securely covered with tight-fitting lids to prevent attracting wild animals.
- Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
- Wash animal bites or scratches immediately with soap and water.
- Seek medical attention immediately if bitten or scratched by a stray or wild animal. Rabies treatment is highly effective in preventing rabies IF administered before symptoms develop.
- Report suspicious animals to local animal control.
For more information on rabies, please visit www.michigan.gov/rabies or contact the WCPHD Communicable Disease Unit at 734-727-7078, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.