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Fox tests positive for rabies in county

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

For the third consecutive week, an animal has tested positive for rabies in Bandera County. The latest incident occurred Wednesday, August 24, according to a press release from the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office.
On that date, deputies transported a fox carcass to the veterinary office of Rabies Control Officer Conrad Nightingale, DVM. The fox’s remains had been recovered in the 1000 block of Lacey Drive off Highway 173 North.
The deceased animal was sent to the Texas Department of State Health Services laboratory in Austin for examination and testing, which came back positive for the WHAT variant of rabies.
Due to the number of cases that have tested positive for the rabies virus within the last month, Nightingale described this area as “a hot spot for the disease at this time.” For the most part, however, Bandera County has not yet experienced the proliferation of rabies cases that neighboring Kerr County has had in the last few years.
A viral disease, rabies is almost always fatal. Once an animal is infected, the disease can be easily spread from animal to animal. Luckily, human deaths in Texas continue to be few.
According to Sandra Schott, animal control community liaison for Bandera County, a dog was recently attacked and bitten by a rabid raccoon. “The dog is now in mandatory quarantine for 45 days because he did not have a current rabies vaccination.”
She explained, “Pets can get rabies from the bite or scratch of a rabid animal. People can also become infected by getting a rabid animal’s saliva in their eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound.
“I cannot stress how important it is to have your pets vaccinated against rabies. Vaccination is one of the best ways we have to protect people and pets from rabies in our community. It is also the law.”
For the record, all dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies at the age of three months and four months. Additionally, all animals must receive a second rabies vaccination within one year from the date of receiving their first vaccination – regardless of the type of vaccine used or the age at which the animal was initially vaccinated.
After the second rabies vaccination, a dog or cat must be vaccinated against rabies at least every three years, and in accordance with state rules that state “a licensed veterinarian must administer the injection.” Failure to vaccinate against rabies is punishable by a fine of up to $500 per animal.
“Failure to vaccinate companion animals against rabies not only puts them at high risk but also puts the whole community at risk, as well,” Schott said. “If your pet is not current on its vaccines, please call your vet and make an appointment to get this done right away.”
Once again, residents are warned stay away from and not to handle any wild animal, period. Be particularly cautious around nocturnal wildlife active during the day and wildlife that appears friendly around people.
Additionally, residents are urged not to handle strange companion animals that that exhibit unusual behaviors. This warning includes not playing with stray cats and dogs.
Ranchers should also consider vaccinating their livestock and equine against rabies.
For suspicions or concerns about an animal, residents are urged to call the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office at 830-796-3771, or call 9-1-1 for an emergency situation.