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Dogs and cats in southeastern Montana's Carter County have been quarantined after a rabid skunk infected a puppy, according to the Montana Department of Livestock.

Steve Merritt, a spokesman with the department, said a quarantine means that dogs, cats and ferrets need to be vaccinated a minimum of two weeks prior to travel outside of the county.

Merritt said a skunk got into the yard of a dog breeder and exposed a female with seven puppies. The skunk killed a puppy and scratched another. That puppy later tested positive for rabies.

The mother and four puppies were euthanized, but the owners decided to keep two. In order to do that, they had to agree to place the puppies in quarantine for six months at an approved facility, Merritt said.

The incident also resulted in multiple human exposures, which are being tracked by the Montana Department of Health & Human Services, Merritt said. Under Montana law, counties are quarantined when rabies is diagnosed in a terrestrial animal such as a dog, cat, skunk or fox.

Rabies is highly preventable in domestic companion animals and livestock via an inexpensive and effective vaccine, the Livestock Department said. Pet owners are encouraged to keep their animals up to date on vaccinations and should consult with a veterinarian to determine local vaccination requirements.

Anyone who is bitten or scratched should thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention, according to the Livestock Department. Animal bites should be reported to the county health department and county sheriff immediately.
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