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(Placerville, CA) - El Dorado County Animal Services is reminding residents to keep pets current on rabies vaccines and immediately notify Animal Services of any animal bite to a human or pet. This past week, Animal Services identified a family pet, a domestic cat that tested positive for rabies. "While we do not often see cats, dogs and other domestic animals with rabies due to strong local rabies vaccination programs, it's important to emphasize that any mammal can be exposed," said El Dorado County Animal Services Chief, Henry Brzezinski. "Rabies can be fatal to both animals and humans, so keeping pets current on rabies vaccinations, including cats, dogs and livestock, is critical."
According to Brzezinski, the cat did not have a rabies vaccination and is believed to have been exposed while roaming outside of its residence on the 4700 block of Viking Road in Greenwood in mid-June 2022. Animal Services has identified rabid skunks in the Greenwood area in the past and most recently identified a rabid skunk near the family's home in mid-May 2022, when the family's dog had contact with the skunk. (The dog wasn't current on its rabies vaccine, so he was vaccinated, and is being quarantined for six months at home in a double enclosure. He is currently showing no signs of illness.) When the cat suddenly passed away at home, the owners took it to the veterinarian who then suggested the cat be tested for rabies given the recently identified rabid skunk near the home. The family and veterinarian's office consulted with Animal Services on any other actions needed regarding their potential exposure.
Rabies is endemic in all 58 counties in California, including El Dorado County. Animal Services identifies rabid animals each year, though there have been no reports of rabid domestic pets in El Dorado County for at least the past 10 years. The California Department of Public Health's statewide data reports show the following domestic animals identified with rabies from 2014 through 2021 in multiple California counties:
2021: 1 cat Humboldt
2020: 1 cat Amador; 1 dog San Joaquin
2019: 1 cat Fresno; 1 cat Tuolumne
2017: 2 dogs Amador; 1 dog Trinity; 1 cat Sacramento
2016: 3 cats: 1 Contra Costa, 1 Humboldt, 1 Sacramento; 3 dogs: 1 Amador, 1 Butte, 1 Humboldt
2015: 1 cat Mendocino; 1 cat Monterey
2014: 2 cats: 1 Amador, 1 San Joaquin; 1 dog Sacramento
In 2021, Animal Services identified a total of 11 animals (three bats and eight skunks) that tested positive for rabies in El Dorado County. Between the months of March and June 2022, a total of seven rabid animals (six skunks and one bat) were found in El Dorado County. Two rabid skunks were found in Placerville, two in Garden Valley, one in Georgetown, and one in Greenwood. The rabid bat was found in Somerset.
Rabies is a virus spread through the saliva of an infected animal, typically through a bite to its victim. It is usually fatal to pets and humans if not treated shortly after exposure. While any mammal can become infected with the rabies virus, bats, skunks and fox are the animals most commonly found to carry the virus. Comprehensive vaccination programs in the United States have meant that rabies among domestic pets is now uncommon.
To prevent the spread of rabies:
For more information about rabies or Animal Services, visit www.edcgov.us/animalservices. To reach Animal Services by phone, call (530) 621-5795 in Diamond Springs or at (530) 573-7925 in South Lake Tahoe.
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