UPDATE: Maumelle skunk tests positive for rabies

MAUMELLE (KATV) - A rabid skunk has been confirmed in the city of Maumelle.

Officials informed residents Friday that a skunk tested positive for rabies Wednesday. They warned all residents to take protective measures to safeguard themselves and their pets from rabies exposure.

Residents were asked to make sure all pets were vaccinated and to keep them indoors. State law actually requires all dogs and cats to be vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian.

Rabies is a virus that attacks the brain andspinal cord and is a fatal disease. The rabies virus lives in the saliva (spit) andnervous 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 Public Health Veterinarian SusanWeinstein, DVM, said that one rabid animalin 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. "Thisincreases the chance that pets and livestock may come into contact with rabidanimals."

In Arkansas, the two most likely animals to carry rabies are skunks and bats. Raccoons have never tested positive for rabies within Pulaski County. This is the first land animal of any kind to rabid in the county since 1980, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).

If you see any of the following, you are asked to call Maumelle Animals Services immediately at (501) 851-6219:

  • Any sick acting skunk or bat
  • Any skunk or bat that is walking as if dizzy or drunk
  • A skunk acting strangely in daylight hours
  • You or your pet come into direct physical contact with any skunk or bat

After hours concerns can be brought to Animal Services at (501) 851-1337.

Arkansastypically averages 47 rabid animals each year; however, the state had 131 rabidanimals in 2012 according to ADH numbers -- nearly triple the average. So far in 2013, there have been 41rabid animals identified.

Click here for a current map of confirmed rabies cases anywhere in the state or look below the comments section of this story.