Rabies Quarantine in Missoula Severely Restricts Animal Transport
A quarantine was issued in Missoula County this week after a rabid skunk bit a person near Harper’s Bridge in the Big Flat area. Montana Assistant State Veterinarian Thanee Szymanski says the county hasn’t had a case like this since November of 1996.
"On Monday we had a skunk test positive for rabies down at our diagnostic lab in Bozeman," Szymanski said. This is a very unusual case because we don't commonly see terrestrial or non-bat rabies in the western side of the state, so a rabid skunk has gotten everyone's attention."
The quarantine will last for 60 days and experts hope this is an isolated case. During the next sixty days only a few animals can be transported out of the county.
"The only animals that are eligible to leave the county are dogs and cats that are currently vaccinated," Syzmansky said. "'Currently vaccinated' means that either they have already gone through their initial series and their booster... and it is current, or that they have already gone through their first dose of vaccine and 28 days have elapsed."
An investigation is currently underway in the area around West Missoula where the bite occurred. Szymansky says experts are hoping the skunk had the same type of rabies found in Montana bats and are worried that it might be a new or different strain.