Iowa man and dog "attacked" by rabid skunk - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Iowa man and dog 'attacked' by rabid skunk

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IOWA, LA (KPLC) -

The state veterinarian has alerted officials at Iowa High School that a resident nearby has been exposed to a rabid skunk. Officials want to make sure students and others understand the risk of contact with skunks in the area.
  
Charles Weston, who lives in a trailer on Hardy Street in Iowa, is the man who had the close encounter with the skunk. He said around 3 a.m. Sunday, he and his dog, Daisy, were, in his words, "attacked by a rabid skunk."

"It was bouncing up and down on my legs right here and the way it was attacking her, just running at her. But she was fast, she was getting out of its way. But it was just jumping around, the noises it was making and jumping at her. Just wouldn't stop. It was not going to tire, was not going to stop," Weston said.

Weston said he was forced to hit the skunk with a shovel until it was dead.

"It was horrifying. I've been around a lot of animals and hunted all my life and I've never been horrified by an animal wild hogs and what not, but that animal horrified me. A little bitty skunk horrified me," he said.

Weston said he knew something was wrong by the way the skunk was acting.

"Instantly, I knew that it was rabies," said Weston.

The dead skunk was sent off for analysis and Calcasieu Animal Services Director Nathan Areno confirms tests show it was positive for rabies.

Officials at nearby Iowa high school have been alerted to make sure students and all understand the importance of avoiding contact with wild creatures and seeking medical attention should contact occur.

"If you see primarily a raccoon, a coyote, a skunk or a fox or some animal that's acting out of the ordinary. Just because you see one is not really a reason to panic but if they're acting different from what normal behavior is or you perceive to be normal behavior then contact our office or call 911 or the sheriff's office, whatever, and let them know that you see this," said Areno.

Over the last three days, Weston has received three notices informing him he needs to seek medical attention right away. There was several agencies concerned about his welfare especially since rabies shots must be given within 10 days of exposure.

At last word, Weston was receiving the medical attention needed. The whole incident is also a reminder how important it is to vaccinate pets.  

Dr. Gary A. Balsamo, State Public Health Veterinarian and Assistant State Epidemiologist with the Office of Public Health, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, sent emailed correspondence to Iowa High School officials on Thursday on the matter.

"Rabies is an almost uniformly fatal disease in both animals and people. I wanted to apprise you of this incident so that you might inform students and faculty about the risk of contact with skunks in the area," Balsamo wrote.

Balsamo, in the email, said that rabid skunks tend to be more plentiful in the late winter and early summer due to their "denning habits" during the fall and winter.

"These habits result in increased contact of skunks with each other, and increased risk of rabies transmission," he wrote.

"In the past 20 years, health officials have been aware of rabies virus circulating in skunks in an area centered by the city of Lafayette. Recently, the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Section has recognized expansion of that focus into Jefferson Davis Parish, and with the discovery of the rabid skunk in your area, extension of the focus of infection into Calcasieu Parish," he continued.

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