AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Animals prone to carrying the rabies virus are now starting to migrate back to the area. So, the City of Amarillo is now working to prevent an outbreak.
In 2016, two skunks in the Texas Panhandle tested positive for rabies. The year before, there were 13 skunks and 3 bats.
So far for 2017, there have been no reported cases in animals or humans, and the city hopes to keep it that way.
Health officials are working with Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare to reach out to the public and educate them about rabies.
"It's so important that we are able to assess rabies post exposure medication and that we have high vaccination coverage rates for dogs and cats and livestock in our community," Casie Stoughton, Director of Public Health.
Although the general public does not need the rabies vaccine unless exposed to the virus, your animals should get a vaccine yearly.
Rabies can be transmitted from an animal scratch or bite, and the best way to protect yourself is to first protect your pets.
Pets are more likely to come in contact with high risk animals, those animals are bats, skunks, raccoons and coyotes.
"It's important not to touch, feed or unintentionally attract wild animals," Stoughton said. "We need to teach our children not to pet or touch animals especially those that are sick or wounded. If animals are acting outside of normal animal behavior, that's a high risk key indicator."
If a wild animal enters your home or is on your property, do not touch it or remove it yourself. Instead, call the animal management and welfare department or your local sheriff's office.
For more resources, visit the City of Amarillo website.