CARSON COUNTY, Texas — A skunk recovered from a Northern Texas county tested positive for avian influenza, marking the first case of bird flu in a mammal for the Lone Star State.
The National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed the case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) this week after a striped skunk that was found in Carson County tested positive.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, HPAI is highly contagious and usually spreads among wild and domestic birds.
The department added that it could also be spread indirectly between animals, usually through consumption of an infected carcass, as well as indirectly through environmental contamination.
Other mammals at risk of the bird flu: foxes, raccoons, bobcats, opossums, mountain lions and black bears.
Symptoms can include ataxia (incoordination, stumbling), tremors, seizures, lack of fear of people, lethargy, coughing and sneezing, or sudden death.
"Because of the ease of transmission, TPWD recommends that wildlife rehabilitators also remain cautious when intaking wild animals with clinical signs consistent with HPAI and consider quarantining animals to limit the potential for HPAI exposures to other animals within the facility," the department said in a news release.
Though the transmission of the bird flu from infected birds to people is low, the public is encouraged to wear gloves, face masks, wash their hands and avoid wild animals.