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Marble Falls warns of rabies outbreak

Marble Falls Animal Services uses live animal traps to capture potentially rabid wildlife so that they may undergo testing. Staff photo by Alex Copeland

An outbreak of rabies among wildlife in Marble Falls has local officials concerned. Marble Falls Animal Services sent out an alert Jan. 15 via Facebook in response to a series of positive rabies reports in the city limits in January.

Confirmed cases include:

  • a raccoon in the area of Bluebonnet Drive the week of Jan. 5
  • a fox in the area of Westside Park (1700 block Second Street) the week of Jan. 13
  • a fox in the area of South Avenue L the week of Jan. 13
  • a fox in the area of Pecan Valley the week of Jan. 13
  • a raccoon in the area of Pecan Valley the week of Jan. 18
  • a fox in the area of Sixth Street and Avenue A the week of Jan. 18

The uptick in cases occurs during breeding season for foxes and coyotes, said Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“That puts them on the move a little bit more this time of the year, which puts them into contact with skunks,” Van Deusen said. “Skunks are the animals we see the most often with rabies and infecting other animals with rabies.”

It’s always rabies season in Texas, said veterinarian Kelly Krobot of Highland Lakes Veterinary Clinic.

“The best thing you can do for your pet (besides obviously vaccinating) is to not leave any food or water outside where other animals can access it,” Krobot told DailyTrib.com in an email. “This attracts strays and varmints to your property and encourages bad encounters. If you see an animal showing signs suspicious of rabies, get away and contact animal control immediately.“

When people think of rabies, they equate the aggressive symptoms of the dog in the classic film and book “Old Yeller,” Krobot said. This is actually false. The most common symptoms of rabies actually are disorientation, seizures, excessive drooling, frothing at the mouth, changes in attitude, and wandering or roaming. Aggressive behaviors can be seen, though.

Marble Falls Animal Services urges all residents to have their pets vaccinated for rabies. All dogs and cats are required by state law to be vaccinated against the disease no later than 4 months of age.

“Most vets in the area require that animals have vaccines done annually,” Ferguson said. “Some last for three years. However, you can update those vaccinations (with a booster) without any repercussions.”

If someone comes into contact with a wild animal, call the Marble Falls Police Department immediately at 830-693-3611. If bitten, the victim should also contact a physician immediately.

alex@thepicayune.com