Skunk Deaths Not Due to Rabies or Distemper, Tests Show

April 3, 2008

Rabies and distemper appear not to be the cause of death for dozens of Northern California skunks, reports a veterinary scientist at the University of California, Davis.

"We want to reassure members of the public that the skunks we tested, which were also found near a dead or dying fox and raccoon in the Redding area, did not die from rabies or distemper," said Janet Foley a veterinary researcher who studies the ecology and epidemiology of infectious diseases in the Center for Vectorborne Diseases. The center is a joint research venture between the School of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

"We are now working aggressively with the California Department of Fish and Game to identify what did cause the deaths of these animals, looking closely at possible toxins and parasites," she said. "It's important to identify what is causing this unusual die-off because the skunk can be a sentinel species that often alerts us to environmental health problems."

Foley's laboratory studies the ecology and epidemiology of infectious diseases in animal and human populations, with a special interest in emerging infectious diseases among wildlife. Her graduate students Mourad Gabriel and Greta Wengert are spearheading this investigation.

Since mid-February, some 60 skunks, as well as a fox and a raccoon, have been found dead near Redding, Calif., and were reported to the California Department of Fish and Game. After diagnostic tests by the Shasta County Health Department ruled out rabies as the cause of death, bodies and biological samples were sent to UC Davis for analysis.

Foley cautioned members of the public not to touch dead or sick wild animals. They should, instead, report any unusual sightings to their county health departments, she said.

Source: UC Davis

Explore further: Cities adapt to growing ranks of coyotes, cougars and other urban wildlife

Related Stories

Auburn's EcoDogs sniffing out endangered species

June 4, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- These dogs seek out animals in the woods, but they aren't your typical hunting dogs. They have been trained to find endangered species so Auburn University researchers can document the location and number ...

Skunk's Strategy Not Just Black and White

November 10, 2009

Predators with experience of skunks avoid them both because of their black-and-white coloration and their distinctive body shape, according to UC Davis wildlife researcher Jennifer Hunter. The study was published online Oct. ...

California sprouts marijuana 'green rush'

July 18, 2009

(AP) -- A drug deal plays out, California-style: A conservatively dressed courier drives a company-leased Smart Car to an apartment on a weekday afternoon. Erick Alvaro hands over a white paper bag to his 58-year-old customer, ...

Recommended for you

New blow for 'supersymmetry' physics theory

July 27, 2015

In a new blow for the futuristic "supersymmetry" theory of the universe's basic anatomy, experts reported fresh evidence Monday of subatomic activity consistent with the mainstream Standard Model of particle physics.

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.