Burnet County issues alert after several rabid wildlife reports

STAFF REPORTER CONNIE SWINNEY

TIMBER RIDGE —As Burnet County animal control officers investigate a third case of rabies infection since April, authorities have asked rural residents to take precautions and update their pets’ vaccinations.

The latest report June 15 involved a rabies-positive skunk in the 300 block of Timber Ridge Road, according to the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office.

“Obviously, there’s a safety issue with having potentially rabid animals,” Capt. Ricky Bindseil said. “In the rural area, you have more wildlife.

“Particularly this time of year, it’s going to come closer and closer to your home because it might be seeking water because of the heat,” he added.

The other two cases involved a rabid raccoon in the 4700 block of CR 210 and another rabid skunk in the 500 block of Ancient Oaks Drive.

“The best thing is make sure (residents) have their animals vaccinated,” he said. “If they see an animal acting out of the ordinary, call the sheriff’s (office).”

Those who care for pets also stress that residents take precautions and understand the risk.

“Most of the time, we’re concerned with people who have outdoor-only pets — you have outside water and food,” said Jacey Phillips, lead surgery tech at Marble Falls Pet PALS.

The entity vaccinated more than 200 pets for rabies in June.

“Burnet County, Llano County, Travis, Williamson counties have the highest number of rabid (wild) animal reports than anywhere else in Texas,” she said. “Skunk is the number one carrier of rabies.”

Phillips said pet owners who discover a rabid wild animal on their property should prepare to face closer scrutiny of their pets.

“It gives you better options if your pet should be confined,” she said. “You can do a home confinement (with updated rabies vaccinations) versus a mandatory 45-day confinement at an animal control facility if you’re animal doesn’t have a current rabies vaccine.”

Also, entities typically levy a fine for outdated or non-existent shots.

Phillips also offered the following tips to people who discover either dead wildlife on their property or those acting out of the ordinary:

• Remove yourself and any pet you have from the area the animal is located.

• Call animal control or the sheriff’s office.

• Follow up with athe local rabies control authority for the outcome of the rabies test.

• Review and update pet vaccinations.

“It’s a non-treatable disease,” she said. “Having current rabies vaccinations every year will make sure you have a higher preventative rate for rabies.”

connie@thepicayune.com

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