City of Wichita Falls reports first positive rabies case in 2023

The City of Wichita Falls Animal Services Center is encouraging all pet owners and citizens to...
The City of Wichita Falls Animal Services Center is encouraging all pet owners and citizens to increase their awareness of rabies.((Source: City of Wichita Falls))
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 6:19 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The City of Wichita Falls Animal Services Center is encouraging all pet owners and citizens to increase their awareness of rabies, following the first positive rabies case in 2023.

An animal care officer responded to a call on Jan. 12 on the north side of Wichita Falls regarding a skunk out in daylight acting unusually. The skunk was reportedly captured, euthanized and sent for testing. The health district received a positive rabies result on Jan. 18.

The first case of 2022, in mid-November, was also a skunk.

Animal services urges anyone who observes a wild or domestic animal appearing sick, fearless, aggressive or other unusual behavior such as nocturnal animals out in the daylight, to contact animal control immediately.

The City of Wichita Falls warns that rabies can only be transmitted by saliva, and that exposure may occur if one is scratched by an infected animal or whenever saliva enters an open cut or mucous membrane such as the nose, mouth or eyes.

Rabies is 100% preventable by following a few important guidelines, provided by the City of Wichita Falls:

  • Ensure all pets: dogs, cats and ferrets are current on their rabies vaccinations, as required by Texas State Law
  • Livestock owners are also encouraged to vaccinate horses and other livestock
  • 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, the City of Wichita Falls recommends the following:

  • Don’t feed or water your pets outside - even empty bowls will attract wild and stray animals; if you are feeding feral cats, feed early in the day and do not leave food out overnight, as that will also attract wild 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

Animal services also discourages pet owners from purchasing or taking “free” animals, especially puppies and kittens, from people trying to sell or give them away on the side of the road or in parking lots. 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.

Anyone who has been bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar or wild animal should contact a physician or the Wichita Falls - Wichita County Public Health District for immediate assistance.

The City of Wichita Falls says for more information you can contact:

  • Animal Services at (940) 761-8894
  • Animal Control at (940) 761-7824
  • Wichita Falls Animal Services Center at (940) 761-7824