The Deputy Director of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Public Health Department is warning pet owners about early indications of a severe rabies season.

Gary Hickman says four rabid skunks and a rabid horse have already been found in the county. He says that is cause for concern because it is unusually early in the year for any reported rabies cases. The disease is typically not seen in the area at all until warmer weather arrives.

Another reason for concern is that 11 rabies cases were seen in Laramie County last season, and since those are only the reported cases, the actual incidence of the disease could have been much higher.

He also points to the fact that none of last year's cases in Laramie By comparison, there were no reported cases of rabies at all in the county in either 2015 or 2016. Hickman is advising local pet owners to ''vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate."

Hickman says that is true even for indoor pets because they usually manage to sneak outside at some point.

He urges livestock owners to consult a veterinarian about keeping their animals safe. Hickman is also urging people to immediately report any animals they see acting strangely to Cheyenne Animal Control.

In Wyoming skunks and bats are the most common carriers of the disease, but any mammal could be infected, including domestic pets such as dogs and cats. Humans can also contract the disease if bitten by a rabid animal.

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