Rabies found in West Bloomfield again

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published January 3, 2020

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OAKLAND COUNTY — A recent rash of rabies cases reported in Oakland County has again reached West Bloomfield, with a confirmed case in another skunk from the area, according to officials.

The Oakland County Health Division released a statement Dec. 31 to say that a skunk verified to have the disease was removed from a neighborhood north of West 14 Mile Road, south of West Maple Road, between Orchard Lake and Middlebelt roads. That makes 13 rabid skunks confirmed in the county in 2019, along with one domesticated cat and four bats. The Health Division previously announced that the disease was found in a dead skunk removed from the area of West 14 Mile Road, south of Maple Road, between Drake and Farmington roads, Oct. 23.

According to the Health Division, the spread of rabies could be increased this season compared to years past because of unusually warm temperatures, which increase wildlife activity.

Residents are urged to stay away from animals like skunks, bats, raccoons and foxes, and stray cats and dogs.

“The best protection is to avoid contact with stray, wild and dead animals. Rabies is a fatal disease for both humans and pets, and there is no known cure,” Dr. Russell Faust, the county’s medical director, said in a prepared statement. “Help keep pets protected by getting them vaccinated and avoiding encounters with unfamiliar animals.”

If anyone in a household, including pets, is exposed to a wild or strange animal, the affected area should be washed thoroughly with soap and water, followed by immediate medical treatment. That includes pets that have been vaccinated for rabies before.

“All pet owners should follow their personal veterinarian’s advice, but generally, dogs and cats should be vaccinated every year or every three years, depending on how long a vaccine is designed to last, regardless of whether they go outside,” veterinarian Dr. Beth Grobson said last fall.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the signs, symptoms and outcomes of rabies in animals can vary, but they are often similar to those in humans: abnormal behavior, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, difficulty breathing, paralysis, seizures, weakness, and even aggression or self-mutilation.

More information about rabies can be found on the Health Division’s website, oakgov.com/health, or by contacting the county’s nurse on call at (800) 848-5533 or at noc@oakgov.com.

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