BURNET COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) - Nineteen animals have tested positive for the rabies virus in Burnet County this year, breaking last year's record of 9. Neighboring counties have the same spike in rabies cases.
Of those confirmed in Burnet County, there were 15 skunks, two foxes and two raccoons.
A Meadowlakes mother, Courtney Stanley, thinks number 20 is a raccoon roaming her yard.
"I am seeing a juvenile raccoon and it was definitely not acting normal," said Stanley, who is a former science teacher, while she held her infant son, Klein. "I noticed that its eyes weren't glassy and shining like a normal, healthy animal would be."
Her private community has already had two rabid skunks in the past two weeks.
Her 4-year-old son plays in the yard along with the dog and the family likes to eat outdoors. Stanley said all these activities are coming to a stop.
"It is fearful for people," Stanley added.
Stanley has texted and called neighbors to warn them.
The city of Meadowlakes has its own animal control officer, Rob Galaway. He did not immediately return a call placed to find out if the raccoon was found.
Kim Wilson, who is the animal control office in the city of Burnet, said it is hard to pinpoint exactly why there is a spike in cases but the dry conditions do have animals coming into residential areas to find water.
Wilson added that what they are seeing is a skunk strain of rabies.
"We have a rural community here so it is inevitable they would come in to residential areas," Wilson explained.
Neighboring Llano County also has a record number of rabies infections this year with eight confirmed cases. Six of the rabid animals were skunks, one was a goat and the other a raccoon. Last year, the county only had two reported rabies cases. Twenty-five cases have been reported in Travis County in recent months with the majority being bats and just one skunk.
Williamson County also has a spike in the number of animals infected with the virus. Forty-eght instances of animals tested positive for rabies this year in Williamson County. To date, 20 bats, 26 skunks, and two raccoon have tested positive for rabies in Williamson County.
A man working on his car was bit by a rabid skunk there. Williamson County officials urge residents to protect themselves and their pets.
"City ordinances and state law requires anyone keeping or owning a dog or cat 16 weeks of age or older to have that animal vaccinated against rabies," said Cheryl Schneider, director of the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter. "Vaccinating your pets may prevent the animal from being euthanized if it comes in comes in contact with a rabid animal."
Officials advise resident to look for the following symptoms if they suspect their pet, livestock or a wild animal has contracted rabies:
- Changes in an animal's behavior
- General sickness
- Problems swallowing
- An increase in drool or saliva
- Wild animals that appear abnormally tame, sick, disoriented, fearless, or aggressive
- Animals that may bite at everything if excited
- Difficulty moving or paralysis.
Burnet residents who suspect an animal is rabid are urged to call the Burnet animal control officer at 512-756-8080 and the police department at 512-756-6404.
Llano residents are asked to call Llano County Animal Control at 325-247-5767.
Residents living in any other county should call 911 if they encounter an aggressive rabid animal.
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