WICHITA FALLS, TX - The City of Wichita Falls Animal Services Center is encouraging all pet owners and citizens to increase their awareness of rabies. Two skunks found near Wichita Falls, one southwest of the city and the other southeast, have tested positive for rabies.
Most wild animals are not infected with rabies but residents should always keep in mind that wild animals, by nature, are unpredictable and can carry disease. Any exposure to wild animals, alive or dead, in particular bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and foxes (which are the top five carriers of the virus in Texas) should be avoided.
Children and pets should be watched closely while outdoors to ensure that they do not come in contact with, or touch wild animals. If a wild animal strays onto your property bring children and pets indoors, alert anyone else who may be in the vicinity, and let the animal wander away.
Animal Services urges anyone who observes a wild or domestic animal, active during the day, appearing sick, fearless, or aggressive to contact Animal Control immediately at 761-7824. Do not attempt to capture or shoot the animal; it cannot be tested if shot in the head. Be aware that rabies can only be transmitted by saliva. Exposure may occur if scratched by an infected animal or whenever saliva enters an open cut or mucous membrane (nose, mouth, eyes).
Rabies is 100% preventable by following a few important guidelines:
- Ensure that all pets are current on their rabies vaccinations. Livestock owners are also encouraged to vaccinate horses and other livestock. Any animal that has frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated.
- Don't let pets roam free.
- Stay away from all wild animals and unknown dogs and cats.
- Avoid wild animals-even if they appear friendly.
- Never coax a wild animal to eat from your hand.
If you encounter a bat, do not handle it. Bats have extremely small teeth and you may not realize that you have been bitten.
Teach your children to report all bites, scratches and encounters with a wild or unknown animal.
To reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife, we recommend the following:
- Don't feed or water your pets outside. Even empty bowls will attract wild and stray animals.
- Keep your garbage securely covered. Open garbage will attract wild or stray animals.
- Wild animals should not be kept as pets.
- Enjoy all wild animals from a distance and teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals - even if they appear friendly.
- If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to city or county animal control officials.
If you have been bitten or scratched by an unknown animal or wildlife, contact your physician or the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District for immediate assistance. Also contact City of Wichita Falls Animal Services at 940-761-7824 to make a report. Domesticated animals can be quarantined for a period of time for rabies observation and wildlife will be euthanized and sent to the Department of State Health Services for rabies testing.