Buy a skunk in Michigan? It may have been exposed to rabies

 (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Skunks purchased through a metro Detroit breeder may have rabies and the public is being warned about potential exposure for any who may have purchased the mammals this year.

A skunk that was sold at the seller Roses's Skunks in Attica, Michigan tested positive for rabies on Nov. 29. The state says it's unclear how the animal became infected, but an investigation said it's possible that rehabilitated wild skunks had co-mingled with bred and captive skunks. 

The skunks came through a seller located in eastern Macomb County, in the Chesterfield Township and New Baltimore area. 

Anyone who has purchased skunks from the breeder or through the Attica business over the past six months may be at risk, the health department said in a statement with the DNR.

"If you have purchased one of these skunks from these facilities in the last six months, we are urging you to contact your veterinarian to have the animal examined. If you have interacted with a skunk from these facilities, we recommend you contact your health care provider or local health department about possible rabies exposure," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive with MDHHS.

Owning a skunk in Michigan is legal, but only through a permit issued by the DNR. The skunks must be bred in captivity.

"Where skunks are concerned, it’s illegal to take them from the wild for purposes of rehabilitation or to import them from another state or country. We are continuing to investigate this matter, working cooperatively with local authorities and other state agencies," said Jason Haines with the DNR law enforcement department.

The health department has tried reaching out to purchasers. However, they are also issuing an advisory just in case.

Rabies are typically found in skunks and bats in Michigan, though occasionally a family pet or stray animal can also test positive. That includes a stray dog that was found in Detroit and brought to a Farmington Hills clinic.


Rabies found in stray dog brought to Farmington Hills clinic from Detroit

It's the first case of rabies in a dog that animal control employees in Oakland County can remember.