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Second raccoon tests positive for rabies

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

A second raccoon has tested positive for the rabies virus, according to Bandera County Rabies Control Officer Conrad Nightingale, DVM.
The case confirmed this week occurred in the 600 block of Montague Drive in the vicinity of FM 3240. This follows on the heels of an initial instance of a rabid raccoon found on Elm Pass Road. Both raccoons tested positive for the skunk variant of the rabies virus, Nightingale said.
“There is a four mile spread from the first case to the second,” Nightingale said. “I think we’re just hitting the surface – the tip of an iceberg. A lot more raccoons and skunks are infected out there. They’re dying of rabies and we just haven’t found them yet.”
For this reason, administrators with the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office have asked resident to be extremely cautious when confronted with wild animals, and to monitor their pets closely. Particularly avoid encounters with skunks and raccoon.
Although a dog was exposed to the virus in the first incident, the second incident proved more serious, according to BCSO Chief Deputy Matt King. “Apparently the raccoon attacked a pet, and several people dispatched the raccoon,” he said, adding that three people had been exposed to the rabies virus. “They’re currently undergoing treatment.”
To bring awareness to the serious situation, last weekend, deputies distributed public service flyers outlining the incident throughout the neighborhood and at retail businesses.
Additionally, working in conjunction, city and county crews canvassed the area, trapped feral and stray cats and removed them from the neighborhood, Nightingale said. “They did a good job. Their work helped stop another exposure,” he said.
Nightingale cautioned that colonies of feral cats are susceptible to being attacked by wildlife infected with the rabies virus. Additionally, they often carry immunosuppressive diseases that include Feline FIV, Feline Leukemia and Feline Infectious Peritonitis.
“Even so-called ‘managed colonies’ are not completely free of disease and other cats are constantly joining them. Cats roam and this is known as a ‘drop off’ county,” Nightingale said.
This second positive rabies diagnosis should serve to put everyone on high alert, King said. Reiterating Nightingale’s advice published in the Courier on Thursday, August 18, he said, “Stop feeding pets outside and don’t handle any animal that has not been vaccinated against the rabies virus. This is serious business.”
If residents suspect any animal of being rabid, they are asked to contact emergency dispatch at 830-796-3771. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. Residents are also asked to report stray animals by calling 830-796-3771.