back to article Rabid skunks attack US

A persistent drought and a mild winter has caused a spike in the number of rabid skunks invading the the suburban landscapes of states from up in South Dakota to down in New Mexico. "Everyone is afraid of skunks because you don't want to get sprayed," South Dakota state epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger told The Wall Steet …


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  1. wx666z

    a title is required

    Thought this was a story about our elections...

    1. Arctic fox

      Re: "Thought this was a story about our elections"

      Indeed. When I saw the headline concerning "rabid stinkers" I assumed they had to be referring to the current crop of Republican presidential candidates.

      1. VeganVegan

        Re: "Thought this was a story about our elections"

        @Arctic fox: arctic foxes apparently constitute the major rabies reservoir in the circum-polar region; see, for example,

        1. Arctic fox

          @VeganVegan Re: "Thought this was a story about our elections"

          Foxes are a notorious reservoir for the disease where ever the species is found. When infected they have a tendency to howl, foam and bite uncontrollably - rather like the current crop of Republican wannabees.

      2. Tom 35

        Re: "Thought this was a story about our elections"

        I thought they already had a story about the MPAA boss.

      3. Tom Westheimer

        Re: "Thought this was a story about our elections"

        My first thought it was about our politicians!

      4. BrentRBrian

        Re: "Thought this was a story about our elections"

        ... or anyone in politics for the last 100 years.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought this story...

    ...was about MS salesmen pushing Windows phones.

  3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

    have resulted in 30 of Eddy County's dogs, cats, and sheep needing to be euthanized.

    Can't speak for the sheep, but unless the "euthanized sheep count of Eddy County" was about 30, it says more about Eddy County's lack of enforcement of rabies vaccination laws than anything else.

    Rabies vaccination is very effective. In the US, all veterinarians are required to be vaccinated against rabies.

    For other reasons, I am immunized against rabies. It helps dealing with my boss.

    1. Marvin the Martian

      And call me back when it's an actual emergency...

      If it's a horde of RABID ZOMBIE SKUNKS for example.

      1. BrentRBrian

        Re: And call me back when it's an actual emergency...

        We have those quarantined in WASHINGTON DC

  4. Notas Badoff

    Rabid angry stinkers attack chaffing US underparts

    Slap in a stock photo and who needs the text?

  5. jake Silver badge


    Most of us who live in rural areas avoid wild critters which are acting abnormally. It's not like they go out of there way to infect anything ... Personally, I'm more worried about feral cats eating rabid bats than I am rabid skunk, opossum, raccoon, mice, rats, etc. ... Cats bite because they can, the rest of the critters avoid humanity whenever possible.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Whatever.


      There ;-)

    2. Rob 5

      Re: Whatever.

      Not one human has died after being bitten by an infected cat in over 30 years - in the entire USA. In part this may be because the virus becomes weaker each time it crosses a species boundary.

      As with many other things, any threat from rabies is very much over played by bureaucrats seeking to build empires, expand their powers etc.

      Sadly, any questioning of their flawed risk analysis is met by cries of "think of the children!"

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Whatever.

        But even so, it's a reasonable precaution that all visiting Americans be held in quarantine for 6 months

        1. Silverburn

          Re: Whatever.

          But even so, it's a reasonable precaution that all visiting Americans be held in quarantine for 6 months

          So...the normal time it takes to get through heathrow passport control and customs then?

          1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Whatever.

            You owe me a monitor and keyboard!

      2. jake Silver badge

        @Rob 5 (was: Re: Whatever.)

        Feral cats are a part of the food chain[1] around here. We trap 'em, and spay & neuter 'em and give them their basic vaccinations, but it's rare that we can re-trap a critter. After a period of time, if they live long enough, they titer out and become susceptible to rabies again. If these critters find a bat flopping around on the ground, it's an irresistible playtoy. Invariably, they discover that it tastes like mouse.

        Now we have an unpredictable, uncatchable infected predator on the premises. Usually I spot 'em and shoot 'em before they become a problem ... but.

        I'm not worried about me & my staff (we are inoculated); rather I'm worried about the kids who take riding lessons here ... they also use our babies as a petting-zoo. An un-noticed cat bite on a piglet (happens more than you might think!) can have pretty bad ramifications.

        [1] Hawks, rattlesnakes, raccoon, bobcat, coyote, mountain lion and bear will all feast quite happily on your common or garden rodent-fed[2] feral domestic moggy.

        [2] It's a working ranch ... we'd have a hell of a rodent problem without our ferals.

        1. Rob 5

          @ Jake (was: @Rob 5 (was: Whatever.))

          Fair point about the food chain. I tried to explain that to our city council (which I'm carefully not naming) when they drafted a dog's breakfast of an ordinance at the behest of one bird loving councilman. "It's nature," I said "cats eat birds, coyotes eat cats, etc." [1] We live on the edge of town [2], next to a big canyon and get deer, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons and all sorts wandering about.

          However, I think your concerns over kids getting rabies via transmission from bat to cat to pig to human fall into the flawed risk analysis category that I mentioned earlier. In truth, those kids are probably at much greater risk of harm during the drive out to your place than they are petting the piglets.

          [1] They went ahead and passed it anyway - it pisses all over the US constitution and basically criminalises everybody in town, allowing them to selectively enforce it against folks they don't like. I was told to shut up or expect to get pulled over for speeding every time I left the house and a woman who has one more dog than the limit was told to publicly support it or they'd come round and euthanize one of her pets.

          [2] On the edge of town but, unfortunately, inside city limits. I've learned my lesson and the next house I buy will be outside whatever city I end up near.

          1. jake Silver badge

            @Rob 5

            You are absolutely correct about the low rate of infection. I don't think there are even a handful of verified diagnosed cases of rabies in humans in the entire lower 48 in any given year.

            Also agree on the lack of driving skills on the part of soccermoms ... but that's a rant for another day ;-)

            Back to rabies ... Rare? Yes. Flawed analysys? Over the general population, I agree. Isolated cases? Maybe not so much. I live on a bat migration path ... and I actually had an infected piglet here about ten years ago. We heard the critter squealing and momma-pig making a racket, I shot the cat slinking away, and we individually isolated the entire litter for a couple weeks. The one that was bit showed rabies symptoms, was euthanized, and diagnosed in the necropsy, as was the deceased cat.

            The cat had been observed acting oddly a couple days earlier. So my staff and I pay attention. I've killed a handful of our feral cats[1] acting oddly since, all of which were similarly diagnosed. No harm, no foul.

            [1] Before anyone comments, I hate shooting 'em ... but it's the cleanest, safest, fastest, least mentally abusive way of dealing with what could become a very bad problem very quickly. I have a Norsk Skoggcat purring in my lap as I type, and there are a couple other cats dotted around the office, some snoozing with the sighthounds & others draped artfully over the higher reaches of the office. The ones in the rafters are mostly repatriated ferals who don't trust the canines. The WeeGees mostly hang with the Whippets, the Main Coons with the Greyhounds (I don't know why). I can't remember the last time I didn't have a feline or three keeping an eye on me.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Shooting the rabid cats

              As a fully signed-up, I-know-who-the-real-boss-is cat lover, I take no issue whatsoever with your policy. I guess that animal is going to put down anyway. Assuming you are a good shot, and I guess you must be, your way probably causes the least suffering.

        2. Arctic fox

          @Jake RE: Life on the ranch

          That was a very interesting post Jake. I have to say you lead a life very different from mine here in North Norway where the environmental and climatic challenges are somewhat different - to say the least. One small amusing moment - I misread your second sentence as follows: "We trap 'em, and spay & neuter 'em and give them their basic vacations". I thought to myself, now that's what I call an employee care-plan!

          1. jake Silver badge

            @Arctic Fox (was: Re: @Jake RE: Life on the ranch)

            They way I see it, the feral cats ARE employees ... and the best way to keep an employee is to make certain they are very gruntled. Unfortunately, they seem to get rather disgruntled after the first trapping & visit from the vet ... Still, we keep 'em in fresh water, enough quality kibble to keep 'em hanging around but still hunting, anti-flea&tick&heartworm cat treats, and coyote-proof shelter, should they choose to make use of it.

            Pardon the "WeeGee" name for our house cats ... I'm told that can be derogatory for Norwegians (or was that Glaswegians? Regardless, beers all 'round!). It's considered a term of endearment for the cat breed in this country.

            I know your country well. I've been all over most of Northern Europe ... My kin are Finns from North of the Arctic Circle ... although many have moved South to between Oulu & Haapavesi. For rather small values of South, of course ;-)

    3. Greg Stovall

      Re: Whatever.

      Well, that is true...unless the animal is rabid. Here in Arkansas we've had quite a few rabid skunks, as well as rabid dogs, cats, and even a rabid COW. The rabid skunks have been very aggressive, unlike their usual mild demeanor, chasing people in quite a number of instances.

  6. Jeebus

    Mistaken identity?

    Are you sure you don't mean the Republican presidential candidacy roadshows?

    I can see how these stinking, verminous, vile creatures are easily mistaken for skunks.

    1. Jeebus

      Re: Mistaken identity?

      Dammit, that will teach me not to read the comments before posting. In my face.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mistaken identity?

      Dehumanising your opponents is the first step to tyranny.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @AC:09:27 (was: Re: Mistaken identity?)

        "Dehumanising your opponents is the first step to tyranny."

        And that is why I don't identify with any political party or religion.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC:09:27 (was: Mistaken identity?)

          I wouldn't go that far myself but I can understand the point.

          Apparently some people can't accept your position, though. Or mine.

  7. Mike Flex

    Wot, no bootnotes?

    "And so, where's the IT angle in this story?" And our sheepish answer must be, "Well, none, actually – we simply wanted to run a story entitled 'Rabid skunks attack US'."

    I thought the normal practice was to publish such stories in the Bootnotes section then sneer at commentards who failed to spot this.

  8. Mr Young

    "When infected, the skunks are nasty little buggers"

    Let me guess - If I had rabies I'd probably be in a totally fucking bad mood as well?

  9. Krasna Halopti

    Rabies = Hydrophobia!

    Doesn't rabies lead to hydrophobia - fear of water? It sounds like the critters would be right at home in a drought-parched region.

  10. Anonymous John

    I for one, welcome our new rabid skunk overlo... Er, no I don't.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OWING to El Reg's RANDOM use of SCARE CAPS in HEADLINES...

    ... I was entirely unable to tell from the front page whether rabid skunks were attacking us, or attacking US!

  12. Andus McCoatover

    Seems "Skunkworks..."!

  13. Sarah Davis

    Avoid freindly rabies victims

    Rabies usually makes it's victims more dosile and less agressive, appearing friendly and even approachable. For example, the only time a coyote will go near a human is when it has rabies. So it doesn't take an einstein to figure don't approach a friendly skunk (or any other wild animal that would normally avoid humans like the plague). Also, a chicken-wire fence (or similar) dug at least a foot into the ground is a great way to control what can get in or out. That, a gun, and maybe some security staff (unless said skunk has managed to get his name on the list)

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Avoid freindly rabies victims

      "don't approach a friendly skunk"

      That's right up there with "don't eat the yellow snow"!

  14. Doug Glass

    Rabid skunks ...

    ...have been attacking the US for years. We locals use the more common term: congress.

  15. Scroticuscanis

    How Many Tested?

    Since rabies can only be positively verified by microscopic examination of the brain (fatal for non-chavs) wonder what the critter count was?

    Should rabies testing be required for all Republican candidates? Please discuss!

    1. Jeebus

      Re: How Many Tested?

      Rabies means generally uncontrollable symptoms.

      Republican candidates are appealing to the people who hate their nation the most, spitting on the constitution and directing hate and pitting minorites against each other with race-baiting tactics.

      Republican candidates are far worse than rabid animals, even though they share so many traits.

  16. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    Guys, guys. This is a British English forum. We have plenty of our own low-life to compare. We don't need the west ponders too.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Erm..

      Uh ... Will, you've been around here for quite awhile. Shirley you've noticed there are ElReg offices in San Francisco and somewhere in the wilds of New South Wales, Australia (Sydney, if I recall correctly). To say nothing of the heathens in Edinburgh, Scotland.

      I rather suspect there are quite a few more of us right-pondian folks reading ElReg than all y'all in Europe.

      It's an IntraWebTubes thang ... Enjoy the mixing and matching of cultures. It's the only thing that'll keep the human race from killing itself off. Beer?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "can kill if not treated immediately."


    Always kills if not treated immediately.

    The people who are known to have survived rabies without medical intervention can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and you could loose a few fingers and still do it.

    There is a curious treatment of putting a person into a deep coma, which has saved a few.

    Anyone who is bitten or scratched, or even licked by a suspect animal, if there is any wound or abrasion on their skin, needs to get post exposure immunisation starting right that moment. This is not the place for details: google will oblige. Anyone who even just possibly might encounter rabid animals should consider pre-exposure innoculation. You still need post-exposure treatment after a bite, but much less of it.

    Symptoms = you're going to die.

    Rabies is fatal.

  18. samlebon23

    This is a signe America is rotting from inside.

  19. -tim

    Skunks with rabies will bite then spray their victims. Rabies has already done damage to the brain by the time the first symptoms show and its one of the worse ways to go. For a while Indonesia was losing a person a day to rabies which can incubate for up to 6 months in humans. There seems to be some natural resistance to it in areas where it is common but areas like Bali where it had never been, it spread quickly. The same will happen as it moves south where it will hit some of the Aboriginal communities where which will accelerate its spread.

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