Skunk Bites Man; First Cases of Animal Rabies in Bismarck in 30 Years | VideoVan Tieu | 3/20/2013
"We started going in there, and my boss came running out and I poke my head in, and the skunk started running towards him. And then another guy came in and had a hammer and threw it at the skunk," says Michael Bruning, who witnessed the attack.
Bruning and his crew knew something was wrong with this rabid skunk.
"After he knocked it out, it started coming back to life. After we started going back in there, we hit it with a shovel a few times and killed it," he says.
Before its grisly death, the skunk bit one of the men. So it was shipped to the Health Department and joined a list of rabid animals.
"So far this year, 81 animals have been tested in the state of North Dakota. Of those animals, eight have been tested positive for rabies," says Alicia Lepp, an epidemiologist at the State Health Department.
Lepp says this is normal. At this time last year, 31 cases of rabies were reported because of increased surveillance in Bowman County. However, Bismarck Animal Control has not seen a case of rabies for 30 years. This skunk is the third confirmed case this year. Two stray cats tested positive in January.
"With the warm weather we`ve been having, our winters aren`t as harsh, so disease spreads faster," says Melissa Hilsendeger, Bismarck Animal Control Warden. "Is it a concern? No. Not with three cases."
The warden says as more people move to outlying areas, these encounters increase. So look for the warning signs.
"Clinical signs of rabies in animals are going to be: aggressive behavior. They`re going to avoid water because it will be difficult for them to swallow. They may also have an unsteady gait, so not walking normally," says Lepp.
If you come into contact with a rabid animal, do not try to scare it away. Animal control says just avoid it.
Outdoor pets are vulnerable to getting rabies if they get scratched or bitten by infected wildlife. Animal Control and the Health Department remind pet owners to vaccinate their pets. It could take 6 months for symptoms of rabies to show, so a pet would have to be put down by then if it is not vaccinated.
The man who was bitten is seeking the proper treatment from his doctors.