When It Comes to Rabies, Skunks and Bats Top South Dakota’s List
Rabies is a disease that if contracted by humans and goes untreated is one hundred percent fatal. Knowing some basics before exploring the great South Dakota outdoors could come in handy.
Identifying which animals are the most likely to be a carrier is a good start. Randy Johnson of South Dakota Game Fish and Parks says be wary of the top two.
“Skunks and bats are number one and two for rabies. However anything from cattle to raccoons and all those types of critters could also be rabid.”
When addressing the common theme of if you see bats or skunks in the daytime, Johnson says there are no absolutes.
“It’s not necessarily what you want to see. It can happen that (skunks or bats) could be out and about doing their thing. It’s more of an indication that it may be abnormal for them to be out.”
Additionally Johnson notes that there are two types of rabies virus.
“One is called the dumb form and one’s called the furious form. Once the dumb form sets in, the animal becomes lethargic and it just tends to itself. It’s almost as if it’s unaware of what’s going on. The furious form is the classic, really aggressive, irritable, foaming at the mouth (variety). They will come after you.”
Around ninety percent of rabies cases come in the furious form.
The disease is transmitted through the infected animal’s saliva which is usually through a bite, but the saliva can also enter through an open wound or mucous membranes.