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. In early July Animal Services identified a family pet, a domestic cat that positive for rabies tested.
“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 mammals 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.
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, 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 mammals 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:
• Maintain current rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and livestock.
• Keep property free of garbage, stored bird seed and leftover pet food to avoid attracting wild animals.
• Keep pet doors closed at night to prevent entry of wild animals into the home.
• Never approach, pick up, feed or interact with unfamiliar dogs, cats or wild animals.
• Don’t approach an animal that appears sick or aggressive. Report it to Animal Services.
• Don’t touch a dead animal with bare hands.
• Call Animal Services if a domestic or wild animal shows sign of rabies (such as staggering, confusion, lack of fear or aggressive behavior).
• Notify Animal Services immediately if a person or pet is bitten or exposed to a suspected rabid animal.
• Maintain your property’s attic, foundation and ventilation system to ensure they are properly sealed to prevent wildlife infestation.
• Immediately notify Animal Services if you find a bat alive or dead in your bedroom.
For more information about rabies or Animal Services visit 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.