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Roaming Rabid Skunk Bites, Infects Long Valley Dog

Twp. health department warns residents to be on the lookout and take precautions.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo

A potentially stinky situation became very scary this past week, as a Washington Township resident learned the hard way a rabid animal was going after the family's pet.

According to Washington Township Department of Health supervisor Chris Gibbs, a resident on Spring Lane near the intersection of Naughright called to report a skunk was near the family’s home and “acting very unusual,” Gibbs said.

“The resident said the skunk was not afraid of the family dog and began fighting with it,” Gibbs said. The skunk then bit the dog and the township was alerted.

Tests were sent out on Monday to see if the dog had been infected by the skunk. On Tuesday, positive rabies results were returned to the township, and the dog was quarantined per protocol, Gibbs said.

“We strongly urge residents to make sure their dogs and cats are vaccinated each year,” Gibbs said. “Residents also need to be alert and take precaution when approaching or are near wild animals.”

Gibbs also said if a family pet is contacted by a wild animal that may have rabies to not handle the dog or cat right away, so as to not come in contact with the saliva left by the aggressor. If the pet is injured badly and needs immediate attention, the owner should use gloves when handling the animal, Gibbs said. 

Alice Jameson August 29, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Jason: Presuming the skunk hasn’t been captured, are there any estimates on how long it can survive with rabies? I shudder to think of how many wild animals it has the potential to infect.
Not Domino August 30, 2013 at 03:22 AM
Is it legal to hunt this skunk?
12345678 August 30, 2013 at 01:46 PM
I thought rabies could only be confirmed by an autopsy of the infected animal's brain?
Joanne August 30, 2013 at 05:54 PM
guess they could also test the dog..but why would you have your dog out if you know there is a crazy skunk outside?? unless the dog was sprayed and she didn't want to bring it inside.....
Hookerman August 31, 2013 at 09:25 AM
I don't think they knew about the skunk until it started acting aggressively towards the dog.
Kathlyn Carter August 31, 2013 at 11:02 AM
Thank you, Jason. This is a perfect example of how the Patch provides an important community service. I have alerted all of my neighbors and hope that others who read this will do the same.
12345678 August 31, 2013 at 01:01 PM
It would be nice to know whether or not this sunk is still at large infecting other animals...
Alice Jameson August 31, 2013 at 01:53 PM
12345678: That’s a question I’d really like the answer to—especially since several wild animals have chosen to make their home on my property. Somehow I just don’t think Mr. Groundhog would appreciate being dragged out of his abode, and dropped by the vet for a rabies shot. I’m trying to gauge the risk to people working on my house and yard, but at this point, I don’t have any tangible information with which to do that.
Lee Ann September 01, 2013 at 09:12 AM
This is a reason why people need to have their pets vaccinated for rabies. The only way to test for rabies is to send the animals head to the state for testing but if your pet has valid proof of a rabies vaccination they only require quarantine. Its a disease that the animal can transmit to humans and that is why its the only vaccine required by law.
Lee Ann September 01, 2013 at 09:18 AM
Alice, very rarely do groundhogs carry rabies.
12345678 September 01, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Lee Ann, the article does not indicate that the skunk was captured and tested for rabies. So, exactly what kind of testing confirmed the rabies? Also, if the skunk attacked and bit the dog, it could do the same to a groundhog or any other animal. An update here would be nice.
Lee Ann September 01, 2013 at 04:18 PM
Either the dog or the skunk is dead, that's the only proof of rabies. You can not test a live animal for rabies. The Patch doing their best as usual to keep people guessing or bickering.
Kathlyn Carter September 01, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Thank you Lee Ann. I just did some research and you are totally correct. Could you please provide us with further information, Jason, as to how the health department came to the conclusion that the skunk is rabid.
Jason Koestenblatt (Editor) September 09, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Apologies for the slow follow up to this, folks, and thank you so much for your questions and concerns. Here's more information not just about this incident, but what residents should know about the potentially deadly disease: http://longvalley.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/rabies-endemic-in-long-valley-health-official-says
Not Domino September 23, 2013 at 08:57 PM
If an obviously rabid wild animal such as a skunk, fox, ground hog, etc. shows up in my back yard, and I happen to have a loaded shotgun on standby, is it legal to shoot the animal? The nearest house behind me is about 2,000 feet away, through heavy forest. And repeat the same question for bow and arrow. One of my neighbors had an obviously rabid fox (severely emaciated, wandering aimlessly, and probably on its last leg) in their yard last week.

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