KINGSLAND — When Llano County officials told Sharon Hawley to quarantine her four dogs for 45 days after one of them had a run-in with a skunk, she was relieved.
It meant they didn’t have to be put down. But it was also more evidence that rabies cases are on the rise in Llano County, officials said.
“It could have been much worse,” Hawley said. “But all my dogs were up to date on their rabies vaccination, so they should be all right.”
State tests revealed the skunk had rabies. It’s the 23rd animal confirmed positive for the disease in Llano County since Jan. 1. During the same time, 54 cases have been discovered in Burnet County.
“We’ve at least tripled what we typically see during a year,” said Llano County Animal Control Officer Janie Crumpler.
Christine Mann of the Texas Department of State Health Services said the agency has tracked an increase in statewide rabies cases, but particularly in the central and northern regions.
Hawley said her dogs chased and cornered a skunk Oct. 12. The animal turned and attacked a dog, injuring the canine’s head.
“We don’t know if the skunk bit (the dog) or just scratched it,” Hawley said.
Llano County Precinct 3 Constable Bill Edwards arrived in the 1700 block of River Oaks and dispatched the skunk.
“But it even turned on him,” the Kingsland resident said.
Most animals in Burnet County testing positive for rabies are skunks, Mann said. In Llano County, 12 of 23 rabid subjects were skunks.
“It could simply be because of an increase of skunks,” Mann said. “It also could be due to the lack of water and the skunks are traveling more, so an exposed animal comes into contact with more animals and spreads the disease.”
Three domestic animals — a donkey and two goats — became infected by rabies in Llano County, Crumpler said.
“So we’re urging people to make sure that their animals’ vaccinations are up to date. Rabies is something that occurs year around, not just during the spring,” she said.
Call law enforcement if you suspect an animal is rabid, Crumpler said.
The disease is transmitted by saliva, so humans who fear exposure should call their doctor, officials said.