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Pontiac — Rabies has been confirmed in two skunks removed from Southfield and Troy in Oakland County, the county's health department said Friday.

The Oakland County Health Division said a third skunk with rabies was found in Southfield last week

"Rabies is present in our communities," Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County, said in a statement. "Avoid contact with all wild animals and get your pets vaccinated."

The virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and is spread through biting or scratching. It cannot be transmitted through a skunk's spray. 

Bats and skunks are the most common carriers of rabies in Michigan. So far this year, cases have been confirmed in four bats and six skunks in Oakland County.

Anyone who sees a wild animal behaving strangely is asked to call animal control for help. If the animal bites someone or a pet, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and seek immediate medical or veterinary attention. 

To report an animal bite, call the Health Division at 248-858-1286.

More information about rabies can be found on the Health Division’s website or by contacting the nurse on call at 800-848-5533 or noc@oakgov.com, which is available 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Tips for preventing rabies

  • Have pets vaccinated regularly. This will protect them if exposed to animals with the disease and prevent them from becoming ill and infecting humans.
  • Do not handle stray, wild, or dead animals.
  • Keep pets indoors or supervised to limit their exposure to wild animals that may be rabid.
  • Use a leash when walking dogs or keep them in a fenced-in yard.
  • Do not leave food or water outside for pets when unattended.
  • Call local animal control experts for help if an animal is acting strangely, including having problems swallowing, exhibiting lots of drool or saliva, appearing tamer than you would expect, biting at everything or having trouble moving or is paralyzed.
  • Keep garbage securely covered, as these items may attract wild or stray animals.
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