Thursday, December 5, 2002

Rabid skunks in Cape

Published in the Current

One skunk has tested positive for rabies and a second, believed to be rabid, remains on the loose in Cape following two encounters with pet dogs on Fowler Road and Patricia Drive.

Three dogs have been quarantined, due to concern about contact they may have had with rabid skunks. On Fowler Road, a skunk tried to enter a wire kennel sheltering two dogs. The homeowner put down the skunk himself, and the animal was later found to be rabid.

On Patricia Drive, a skunk was seen circling a dog, but did not successfully spray the dog, which is unusual, Leeman said.

Most skunks don’t miss, unless they’re sick. A vet who examined the dog, Leeman said, did not find any puncture wounds or saliva indicating direct contact between the animals, but the dog was quarantined as a precaution.

That skunk ran under a shed and could not be captured, Leeman said. “What I worry about is it’s still out there.”

Like the raccoon outbreak of rabies in Cape earlier in the year, this year’s skunks are aggressive rather than shy, Leeman said. He said he has been picking up a lot of dead raccoons lately, leading him to believe the outbreak is reaching its lethal phase in raccoons and will subside soon.

He also has not seen any foxes believed to be rabid, after three gray foxes were found this summer. One was not tested, but the two that were tested both were positive for rabies. One of them had bitten a two-year-old girl at an Old Ocean House Road daycare center, resulting in rabies vaccinations for about a dozen people, children and staff.