Rabid cow confirmed in Madison County

LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Department of Health(ADH) confirmed Tuesday that a cow died last week of rabies near Kingston inMadison County.

Rabies in Arkansas is most often found in skunks. Reports ofcattle being infected with rabies are uncommon, but in 2012 there were three in the state. This is the first one reported for 2013 but 14skunks and one dog have already tested positive as well.

This beef cow undoubtedly got infected by a bite from a rabid skunk,probably 4-12 weeks before showing any symptoms. Rabies is not transmitted to people throughcooked beef or pasteurized milk. Pasteurization and cooking will kill the rabiesvirus, so drinking pasteurized milk or eatinganimal products - so long as they are thoroughly cooked - does not put you in danger of rabies exposure.

SusanWeinstein, DVM, Arkansas Public Health veterinarian, said that the presence ofrabies in one animal in the area is a warning sign.

"What we know is that whenwe find a cow or a skunk with rabies in a local area, there are usually more rabidskunks in the wild that will never be discovered," Weinstein said. "That putsthe local animal population at risk, especially dogs, cats and livestock."

If you thinkyou have become exposed to an animal with rabies, wash your wound thoroughlywith soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Contact yourphysician and county health unit immediately to report the incident. Theanimal in question should be captured, if possible, without damaging its head or risking further exposure.

What can you do to protect yourselves againstrabies?

  • Be sure your dogs and cats are up-to-date ontheir rabies vaccinations
  • Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals
  • Keep family pets indoors at night
  • Bat-proof your home or summer camp in thefall or winter (The majority of human rabies cases are caused by bat bites.)
  • Encourage children to immediately tell anadult if any animal bites them
  • Teach children to avoid wildlife, strays and allother animals they do not know well

Report allanimal bites or contact with wild animals to the local health unit. Do not letany animal escape that has possibly exposed someone to rabies. Depending on thespecies, an animal can be observed or tested for rabies in order to avoid theneed for rabies treatment.

For more information, call your county Health Unit, orDr. Weinstein at (501) 280-4136.