May 9, 2023 – Sheridan County Public Health is reminding residents that Rabies virus is present in Sheridan County and that rabies prevention strategies exist to help residents reduce exposure to a deadly disease for themselves, their pets, and livestock.
As of April 30th, 2023, four skunks have tested positive for Rabies virus in Sheridan County. The Rabies virus can infect any mammal, including humans, cats, dogs, horses, and livestock, although skunks and bats are the primary hosts of the virus here in Sheridan County and throughout Wyoming. Transmission occurs primarily through a bite mark when infected saliva is introduced into the bite wound. Rabies virus infects and affects the brain, nervous tissues, and salivary glands of the host animal, inducing paralysis and ultimately death. Symptoms may include aggressive or agitated behavior, excessive drooling or saliva production, staggering gait, seizures, and other “not normal” animal mannerisms, although it should be noted that not all infected animals will display symptoms.
Please do not attempt to handle or interact with suspicious animals. Within Sheridan County, report these animals to Alan Plummer at the Sheridan Predator Management District by calling 307-751-6012. Within Sheridan City limits, please call the Sheridan Police Department Dispatch at 307-672-2413. General tips for reducing exposure to Rabies virus include:
- Observe and enjoy wildlife, especially bats and skunks, from a safe distance
- Be wary of any animals acting unnatural or “out of sorts”, including usually nocturnal animals wandering around during the day, animals meandering aimlessly without regard to humans or other animals, or animals displaying aggressive behavior
- Vaccinate dogs, cats, horses, and other selected livestock for Rabies and keep the vaccinations up-to-date, even good old McScratchy the Barn Cat…
- Teach children to never approach unfamiliar dogs, cats, or wildlife, even if the animal appears friendly
- People waking to find a bat in their room or a child’s room should contact a medical professional immediately. Bats have extremely small teeth and bite marks may go undetected; unknown or minor contact with bats has been known to lead to Rabies infection. If the bat can be safely captured, it can be tested; and if tested negative, the family could avoid painful and costly post-exposure Rabies shots
- Treat all animal bites with soap and warm water. Contact a medical professional immediately. Document all available information about the suspicious animal and possible location
- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick or injured animals – call animal control for help
- Keep pets under supervision or on a leash to minimize contact with wild animals
Animal vaccinations can help prevent pets, horses, and other livestock from contracting Rabies, and help protect pet owners should pets be bitten by a rabid wild animal. Rabies vaccination is important for both indoor and outdoor pets. It is also important to report animal bites, to humans or pets, to local animal control officials.
If you would like to report a suspicious animal within Sheridan City limits, please contact SPD Dispatch at 307-672-2413. Reporting of suspicious animals outside of Sheridan City limits should be directed to Alan Plummer with the Sheridan Predator Management District at 307-751-6012. The Wyoming State Rabies hotline can be contacted at 1-888-996-9104.
For more information, please visit the following websites or call Sheridan County Public Health at 307-672-5169: