- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A St. Mary’s middle school teacher was bitten on her left foot by a rabid skunk that made its way onto the covered patio of a California restaurant last week, county officials report, before a manager trapped the animal inside the business under a box.
Tammy Wasinchism was driven from the Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant at the Wildewood shopping center to a hospital after the Thursday afternoon incident, according to county officials. An animal control officer used a catch pole to drag the skunk and the box across the restaurant’s parking lot to a grass berm along Route 235, where she shot and killed it with a round from a .22-caliber rifle.
Maryland’s department of mental health and hygiene alerted the county health department on Saturday that an examination of the skunk’s brain tissue determined that it had rabies, a spokesperson for the health department said, and the injured restaurant customer was notified of those findings. A communicable disease supervisor at the health department said medical treatment for someone exposed to rabies generally includes a rabies immune globulin injection followed by four or five vaccinations over the course of two to three weeks.
Wasinchism, a 48-year-old mathematics and technical education teacher at Leonardtown Middle School, may have been taking part in an after-school year gathering on the restaurant’s patio, according to animal control officers, when she was bitten on the big toe of her left foot.
A manager who arrived at the eatery shortly after the 3:30 p.m. incident said this week that the skunk had ventured farther, into the building, for only a “brief moment” before it was captured.
“They had real good teamwork there,” animal control officer Amanda Whipkey said Thursday. The skunk sprayed its noxious protective musk after it was covered with the box in a corner, Whipkey said, and the restaurant’s staff quickly began cleaning and disinfecting the area, while only a few customers remained, in the bar area.
Wasinchism could not be reached for comment Tuesday in a call to her Leonardtown area residence.
So far in 2012, seven of 24 animals’ remains sent for testing from St. Mary’s have tested positive for rabies, mostly involving cases from interaction between household pets and wild animals, according to Ann Rose, an environmental sanitarian supervisor with the health department. The rabid animals include two other skunks and four raccoons, including one that was found across the Charles County line off Thompson Corner Road.
Melanie Gardiner, a supervisor of communicable diseases at the health department, said an average of one or two people in the United States die each year from rabies exposure. Anyone bitten or scratched by a wild animal or noticing unexplained injuries on a pet should call the heath department at 301-475-4321. A rabies vaccination clinic for pets takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the county fairgrounds