It has now been confirmed that a skunk that bit a woman in St. Mary’s County Maryland this week was indeed rabid. The rabid skunk had wandered into a restaurant and bit a woman in the foot. How a skunk could wander into a restaurant without anyone knowing – and how it could get close enough to bite a woman on the foot – are beyond me. We understand that this is the sixth case of a rabid skunk found in St. Mary’s County this year.
Rabies, traditionally associated with bats, is becoming more and more prevalent in skunks. Six rabid skunks found in a county in a single year is a serious matter. In general, cases of rabies have been on the rise in many counties across the country. Ann Arbor had three rabid bats last year; rabid foxes were found in Howell and Whitmore Lake last summer; cases of rabid animals have been increasing in Ingham, Oakland and Washtenaw county for over a year now – even horses have come down with it!
Rabies in Michigan is a serious thing, and we should be concerned about its increase, but it is far from a pandemic, and we ought not be fearful. For one thing, Michigan rabies is often confused with distemperment – so much so that 95% of the calls that we get for rabid animals in Michigan are actually for distempered animals.
But that’s not to say that we should not be cautious. Rabies is a virus that infects an animal’s nervous system and eventually finds its way into the saliva – that is how rabies gets transmitted to humans or other animals via animal bites.
A person who has contracted rabies from an animal may develop an illness that may include fever, sore throat, stiff muscles, headache, tiredness, restlessness, nausea, and itching or tingling at the site of the bite. As the disease progresses, a person may become agitated, with periods of calm. Fear of water caused by severe throat spasms when trying to drink may occur. Paralysis then starts in the legs and moves towards the head. Most people die from cardiac arrest or respiratory failure within a short period after onset of illness, which can be within 50 days.
Rabies vaccines do exist that can help you recover from rabies after being bitten, but they are very expensive. How much does a rabies vaccine cost? Usually a treatment is in the range of $2,000-$7,000. It is best to play it safe and not get bitten at all, if possible!
If you see an animal acting strangely, please do not go near it! Call Creature Control or another animal removal company. It’s best to play it safe when dealing with potential cases of rabies or potentially rabid skunk bites.