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How to tell if an animal has rabies, how to protect its pets, and more things to know about the disease.
Sady Swanson

Oakland County Health Authorities warn people not to interact with wild animals after a Rochester Hills skunk found rabies.

"Our natural instinct is to befriend and pet an animal that seems friendly or to help someone who is injured," Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County, said in a news release on Wednesday. "But usually you avoid stray and wild animals to protect yourself against rabies."

Offici advised the residents to call the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center at (248) 391-4102 if they see a wild animal acting strangely.

People who are bitten by a wild or unknown animal should wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Animal bites can be reported to the Oakland County Health Division at (248) 858-1286.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system, ultimately leading to brain diseases and death, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and is spread by bites or scratches.

Officials advise people to take these precautions:

• Let pets be vaccinated on a regular basis. This protects them when they are exposed to animals with the disease and prevent them from becoming carriers and infecting humans.

• Do not treat stray, wild or dead animals

• Call for local animal welfare experts The animal behaves strangely, including difficulty swallowing, showing much saliva or saliva, being tougher than expected or biting and being moved or paralyzed.

• Keep your pets indoors or supervised to limit exposure to wildlife that may be rabid.

• Use a leash if you run dogs or keep them on a fenced yard.

• Do not feed water or put pet water in the house.

• Keep trash safely covered Objects can attract wild or stray animals.

Contact person writer Ann Zaniewski at 313-222-6594 ​​or azaniewski@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @AnnZaniewski.

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