Rainfall and temperatures are not the only thing on the rise in Kansas this year. So are cases of rabies in animals.
Marion County health department administrator Diedre Serene said that there have been five reported cases of rabies in Marion County since March.
Four of the cases were cattle; the other, a skunk.
Serene advised county commissioners Monday animals with rabies do not always show aggression, and that if you see a skunk that looks lethargic or lets you get close to it, do not approach it.
Serene said she was planning a news release encouraging people to vaccinate animals of financial value; however, according to Hillsboro Animal Clinic veterinarian Lesha Koch, there is not a rabies vaccine that is used in livestock.
“There’s not a rabies vaccination that we use in cattle,” Koch said. “We recommend cats, dogs, and horses all get rabies vaccinations.”
Koch said that cows typically get rabies through infected wildlife such as raccoons, opossums, and skunks.
“Cows will be eating and grazing and the [infected] animal will come and bite them on the nose and leg,” Koch said. “Skunks are the most common carriers we have in Kansas.”
As for dealing with infected animals, Koch said owners either call in the animal in question to the vet or take care of it themselves.
“If [the owner] sees a skunk or opossum walking around during the day, we always have them call and report it,” Koch said. “Sometimes, the owner shoots an animal and they’ll bring it in themselves.”
Once the animal is brought in, the vet prepares the animal samples to ship off to the rabies laboratory at Kansas State University for testing.
“It is a test where we have to use brain tissues, so we usually cut off the head,” Koch said. “We ask that the owners don’t shoot there.”
Koch also tells owners to not contact the saliva of the animal, and to always wear gloves when handling them and putting them in a plastic bag. Then, have a vet inspect the animal.