The North County dog was infected with the California skunk variant of rabies.
Last week a dog from the North Monterey County area tested positive for rabies. This is significant because this is the first laboratory confirmed case of rabies in a domestic animal in Monterey County in at least 30 years. Lab results indicate the dog was infected with the California skunk variant of rabies. This is not surprising given the level of rabies in the skunk population in the area. This rabies case in a dog serves as a reminder that domestic dogs and cats are at a real risk for rabies in Monterey County.
There are several things you can do to protect your pet from rabies.
- Visit your veterinarian with your pet on a regular basis and keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs. (County Ordinance requires all dogs and cats to be vaccinated against rabies.)
- Maintain control of your pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
- Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or vaccinated regularly.
In North Monterey County, rabies and other pet vaccinations are available at LA Hearne, 8525 North Prunedale Road, 831-663-1572, on Saturday, April 14th and 18th (9:15 to 10:30 am). The rabies vaccination cost is $10 at these clinics. Other low cost vaccination clinics are offered in the Salinas area as well at Collier’s Pet & Feed on Laurel Avenue, 831-443-6161, and at The Feed Trough Feed Store on Highway 68, 831-422-8229.
Owners of domestic livestock species such as horses, sheep, goats, pigs and cattle are encouraged to discuss rabies vaccinations with their veterinarian as these species are also susceptible to rabies infections from rabid wild animals.
The rabies virus is usually passed to humans and animals via the bite of a rabid animal. Occasionally rabies can be transmitted if the saliva of an infected animal gets into a fresh scratch, break in the skin, or mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose).
In addition to ensuring that their pets have been properly vaccinated, residents are advised to avoid leaving pet food outside as it encourages wildlife activity around the home. They should always avoid contact with any of the wildlife species identified above. It is highly unusual for skunks, bats, raccoons, or opossums to be seen during daylight hours. This behavior should be viewed as suspicious and may indicate the presence of a rabies infection. Do not touch or approach the animal. If any wild animals are found dead, acting abnormally or ill call Monterey County Animal Services at (831) 769‑8850.
If you believe that your pet has been in contact with a rabid animal, please contact the Monterey County Health Department immediately by calling Animal Services at (831) 769-8850. It will be necessary to carefully evaluate the degree of exposure in order to determine if quarantine of the animal is necessary. If you or a member of your family has contact with a skunk, raccoon or bat, please contact your family physician immediately so that an evaluation can be made about the need for post-exposure treatment. Once symptoms develop, rabies is fatal.
The public should know and understand the following:
- Rabies is a fatal disease in humans and domestic animals.
- Being vaccinated prior to exposure is the only way to protect pets from infection with rabies.
- Dogs and cats must be kept current on rabies vaccinations.
- Humans and pets should always avoid contact with wild animals.
- Avoid feeding and leaving pets unattended outdoors.
- Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas where they might contact people and pets.
- Contact the Monterey County Health Department Animal Control program to report a wild animal that is acting unusual (out during the daytime, approaching people, staggering, etc.) or to report a pet that may have had contact with a suspicious acting wild animal.
- See your veterinarian if your animal is injured by a wild animal or other domestic animal.
- Avoid separating animals that are fighting.