MAUMELLE, AR - The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has confirmed a skunk found this week in Maumelle (northwest Pulaski County) has tested positive for rabies.
The city of Maumelle says the rabid animal was found in the Edgewater subdivision, a neighborhood near Lake Willastein.
Rabies in Arkansas is most often found in skunks and bats. This is the first confirmed case of rabies in Pulaski County in 2013, and the first land animal found to be rabid in the county since 1980. Each year, ADH confirms some rabid bats in Pulaski County, but rabid skunks are unusual. In Arkansas, domestic animals such as cats, dogs, horses and livestock most often get rabies from skunks.
Rabies is a virus that attacks the brain and spinal cord and is a fatal disease. It is most often seen in animals such as skunks, bats and foxes. Cats, dogs and livestock can also develop rabies, especially if they are not vaccinated. The rabies virus lives in the saliva (spit) and nervous tissue of infected animals and is spread when they bite or scratch. Rabies may be spread if saliva from an infected animal touches broken skin, open wounds or the lining of the mouth, eyes or nose. Arkansas typically averages 47 rabid animals each year; however, the state had 131 rabid animals in 2012—nearly triple the average. So far in 2013, there have been 41 rabid animals identified.
Susan Weinstein, DVM, Arkansas public health veterinarian, said that one rabid animal in an area is a warning sign. “When we find one skunk with rabies in an area, it’s safe to assume there are more rabid animals in the wild,” Weinstein said. “This increases the chance that pets and livestock may come into contact with rabid animals.”
Rabid skunks may be seen out in daylight, which is unusual behavior for skunks, or they may get into a dog pen or under a house and behave aggressively toward other animals. An animal usually dies within one week of exhibiting signs of rabies. Not all rabid animals act in these ways, so you should avoid all wild animals—especially skunks, bats and stray cats and dogs.
People who live in Maumelle are urged to call the city's Animal Services Department immediately at (501) 851-6219 if you see the following:
- Any skunk or bat that appears ill or dizzy (walking as if drunk)
- If you see a skunk during daylight hours that is acting strangely
- If you or your pet come into any physical contact with any skunk or bat.
The after hours number for Maumelle Animal Services is (501) 851-1337.