Bulletin Staff Report

Two confirmed cases of rabies in northern Brown County have prompted law enforcement officials to issue a message of caution to residents.

Brown County Sheriff Bobby Grubbs urged residents not to touch any animal they see that is acting strangely.

“Rabid animals may have a hard time walking, flying, eating or drinking,” Grubbs said in a printed announcement. “Animals that are usually active at night — such as bats, skunks, and raccoons — may be seen during the daytime if they are rabid. If you see an animal acting strangely, don’t touch it. Call your local animal control or law enforcement.

“To prevent your animals from contracting rabies, have them vaccinated by a veterinarian.”

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system. A person can be infected with the rabies virus if bitten by an animal that has the disease. Rabies can also be spread to humans if the saliva from a rabid animal comes into contact with mucous membranes or any open wounds. People who have such contact with a rabid animal must have a series of shots to prevent getting the disease.

According to the state health department, signs of rabies include:

• Animals that have a change in behavior.

• Wild animals which seem to be friendly or tame.

• Wild animals — coyotes, foxes, bats, skunks, and raccoons — which are not usually seen in the daytime.

• Animals that have a hard time walking, eating or drinking.

• Excitement or meanness in animals.

• Animals that bite or scratch at an old wound until it bleeds.

Rabies can be prevented by having a veterinarian vaccinate pet dogs and cats. By law, animal owners need to do this every year or every three years, depending on the type of vaccine used. Veterinarians can offer the best vaccination schedule for pets.

The state health department offered these tips:

• Pets should be restrained, and not allowed to roam.

• Avoid contact with wild animals and with unknown dogs and cats. Do not approach strange dogs or cats. Do not try to hand-feed wild animals and do not keep them as pets.

• Do not touch sick or injured animals. Call and report them to an animal control officer.

For more information, Grubbs said residents can call the Texas Department of State Health Services at (512) 339-4421.