OAKLAND — The Oakland Animal Control Officer recently investigated a possible case of rabies on Town Farm Road.

The property owner had shot a skunk that was walking around in circles on April 26, Officer Pat Faucher said. The Police Department sent the skunk to get tested for the virus, which can cause fever and hallucinations in people and is nearly always fatal if left untreated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The skunk tested positive, Faucher said, so the department advised the property owner to call a veterinarian to check out his dog.

“It’s one of the things you don’t want to take a chance with,” Faucher said.

Faucher recommends that people get their pets vaccinated in case they come into contact with a rabid animal. Oakland has a free vaccination clinic each December for its residents.

“If you care about your animals, get a rabies shot,” he said.

Oakland police also posted some tips Monday on their Facebook page. The department recommends keeping cats indoors, keeping garbage in a tight container and avoiding wild animals, especially if they look sick.

Besides the skunk, the department has come across some “suspect” raccoons, but has only tested one, Faucher said. In the case of wild animals, animal control often will euthanize them if there are enough signs of the disease rather than send them to get tested by the state, which can be costly.

The virus is most prevalent in raccoons in the Northeast, according to research from the CDC, but is also found in skunks and foxes.

Faucher tested four animals for rabies in Oakland last year, but all of the tests came back negative. Six “suspect” animals that he was fairly certain had rabies were not tested but were euthanized.

“I’m sure if we tested any animal that was sick and had to be euthanized, that would be higher,” he said.

While there is no season when rabies hits a peak, the department receives more calls on what people find to be odd animal behavior this time of year because it’s when raccoons and skunks give birth.

Faucher said it’s not uncommon to see a raccoon out during the day this time of year, because it has to find food and take care of its babies.

“But normally when you see them out and about, it’s suspect in our mind,” he said.

According to the Maine CDC, two animals had tested positive this year for rabies in Kennebec County by April 26. In 2016, Kennebec County had 15 cases of rabies, but none occurred in Oakland.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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