WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Officials with the City of Wichita Falls Animal Services Center have confirmed the first positive case of rabies within the city of Wichita Falls in the year 2023.

According to a press release from the City of Wichita Falls, on Thursday, January 12, 2023, an Animal Care Officer responded to a call on the north side of Wichita Falls regarding a skunk out in daylight acting unusual and running around in circles.

City officials said the skunk was captured, euthanized, and sent for testing. The Health District received a positive rabies result on Wednesday, January 18, 2023.

This is the first positive rabies case for Wichita Falls in the year 2023. A positive rabies case was confirmed in mid-November, just two months ago, though it was the first positive case reported in 2022.

City officials said most wild animals are not infected with rabies, but residents should always keep in mind that wild animals, by nature, are unpredictable and can carry disease.

Any exposure to wild animals, alive or dead, in particular, bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and foxes (which are the top five carriers of the virus in Texas) should be avoided.

Children and pets should be watched closely while outdoors to ensure that they do not come in contact with or touch wild animals, The City said.

If a wild animal strays onto your property, bring children and pets indoors, alert anyone else who may be in the vicinity, and let the animal wander away.

Animal Services urges anyone who observes a wild or domestic animal active during the day appearing sick, fearless, or aggressive to contact Animal Control immediately at 940-761-7824. Do not attempt to capture or shoot the animal; it cannot be tested if shot in the head.

Be aware that rabies can only be transmitted by saliva.

Exposure may occur if scratched by an infected animal or whenever saliva enters an open cut or mucous membrane (nose, mouth, eyes).

According to the press release sent by The City, Rabies is 100% preventable by following a few important guidelines:

  • Ensure all pets: dogs, cats, and ferrets are current on their rabies vaccinations, as required by Texas State Law. Livestock owners are also encouraged to vaccinate horses and other livestock.
  • Don’t let pets roam free.
  • Stay away from all wild animals and unknown dogs and cats.
  • Avoid wild animals-even if they appear friendly.
  • Never coax a wild animal to eat from your hand.
  • If you encounter a bat, do not handle it. Bats have extremely small teeth, and you may not realize that you have been bitten.
  • Teach your children to report all bites, scratches, and encounters with a wild or unknown animal.

To reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife, The City recommends the following:

  • Don’t feed or water your pets outside. Even empty bowls will attract wild and stray animals. If you are feeding feral cats, feed early in the day and do not leave food out overnight, as that will attract wild animals as well.
  • Keep your garbage securely covered. Open garbage will attract wild or stray animals.
  • Wild animals should not be kept as pets.
  • Enjoy all wild animals from a distance and teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals – even if they appear friendly.
  • If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to city or county animal control officials.

If someone has been bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar or wild animal contact a physician or the Wichita Falls Wichita County Public Health District for immediate assistance. Also, contact the City of Wichita Falls Animal Services at 940-761-7824 to make a report.

Animal Services also discourages pet owners from purchasing or taking “free” animals, especially puppies and kittens, from people trying to sell or give them away on the side of the road or in parking lots. Domesticated animals can be quarantined for a period of time for rabies observation and wildlife will be euthanized and sent to the Department of State Health Services for rabies testing.

This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available.