Stowaway skunk euthanized in order to test for rabies

The Maui News – A striped skunk that was found live in a container shipment of ceramic tiles in Kahului last week has been euthanized as part of a rabies test conducted on the animal on Oahu, said Janelle Saneishi, public information officer with the state Department of Agriculture.

The only test for rabies in any animal must be done postmortem because it requires testing of its brain, Saneishi said in an email Thursday morning.

“Since the origin of this skunk is unknown, the department has the responsibility to take necessary precautions against any human or animal exposure from a potential rabies carrier.

Skunks are one of four wild animals considered to be primary carriers of the rabies virus, a fatal viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Hawaii is the only state in the nation that is rabies free.

Information about the rabies testing process can be found at www.cdc.gov/rabies/diagnosis/animals-humans.html.

On Aug. 30, workers at a Kahului trucking company discovered the stowaway skunk while unloading a container. They noticed an odor, thought they saw an animal and called agricultural inspectors.

They set up traps and found the approximately 5-pound skunk in one of them on Aug. 31.

Sightings or captures of illegal and invasive species should be reported by calling 643-PEST (7378).

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