A highly contagious and easily transmittable virus has been detected in Texas for the first time.
Officials with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department said Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was found in a striped skunk recovered from Carson County this week.
HPAI transmits easily among wild and domestic birds and can spread directly between animals and indirectly through environmental contamination.
TPWD officials said other mammal species susceptible to HPAI include 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, according to a press release from TPWD.
Current data shows transmission primarily occurs through the consumption of infected animal carcasses and that mammal-to-mammal transmission does not appear sustainable.
The transmission risk of avian influenza from infected birds to people remains low, TPWD reported. However, the public should take basic protective measures like handwashing and wearing gloves and face masks if contact with wild animals cannot be avoided.
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.
Anyone who locates a wild animal with signs consistent with HPAI should immediately contact their local TPWD wildlife biologist.