Rabid skunks reported in Pulaski County area for the first time in 30 years, experts concerned

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -{}Two rabid skunks{}were found in an area of Pulaski County that has not registered a case in more than 30 years.

The skunks were found just a day apart and just a mile away from each other in western Pulaski County. Last year officials reported the highest number of cases in nearly twenty five years. An expert{}with the Arkansas Department of{}Health{}said the only thing more concerning is that this year we're not off to a good start both in the amount of cases so far and the areas in which they're being found.

Living in western Pulaski County, dog owner Glenda Miller has the luxury of acres of lands for her six dogs to enjoy. But a recent report of two rabid skunks being found in her neighborhood has her keeping her dogs a little closer to home.

"I'm very concerned because I have six dogs," she said.

One rabid skunk was found last October just eight miles away from Miller's home. But experts say they seem to be moving farther south into the county. It's something that hasn't been reported in over thirty years.

"We are just now seeing a lot more rabies in Pulaski County than we're used to," said Dr. Susan Weinstein, State Public Health Veterinarian for the Arkansas Department of Health.

One rabid skunk in the area is concerning, two in two days is raising some red flags.

"Rabies seems to be moving in areas that haven't had it before," said Dr. Weinstein. "We don't really know what's behind the increase."

Last year there were three times the normal amount of rabies cases reported in the state. Officials have no idea what causing the surge but they are urging all pet owners to vaccinate all animals including livestock.

"All of those animals are at risk especially if they aren't vaccinated," said Dr. Weinstein.

Experts say it's a small price to pay to protect your pets from disease that's always fatal.

"Keep an eye on my dogs that's for sure," said Miller.

How can you protect yourself from rabies?

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

Symptoms of rabies in your pets from the ADH:

The first sign of rabies in an animal is usually a change in behavior. Rabid animals may attack people or other animals for no reason, or they may lose their fear of people and seem unnaturally friendly. Staggering, convulsions, choking, frothing at the mouth and paralysis are often present. Skunks may be seen out in daylight, which is an unusual behavior for them, or they may get into a dog pen or under a house. Many animals have a marked change in voice pitch, such as a muted or off-key tone. An animal usually dies within one week of demonstrating signs of rabies. Not all rabid animals act in these ways, however, so you should avoid all wild animalsespecially skunks, bats and stray cats and dogs.