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Rabies scare in Maumelle

A rabid skunk was found last week in the Edgewater Subdivision area near Lake Willastein by a local homeowner and parents and pet owners have been concerned since — afraid to let their pets and even children out for fear there might be another skunk infected.

When the official confirmation that the suspected skunk had rabies came down, it marked the first time since the 1980s that a proven case of rabies has been discovered in Pulaski County.

Health officials warned residents that if one skunk had rabies, chances are other animals in the wild also could be infected.

A required public notice was distributed throughout the area to warn people what to look for — mostly skunks acting “funny.” If anyone sees a skunk, especially during the daytime walking like its drunk, animal control should be called to take care of the problem.

The public was warned to protect pets and other animals, children and even adults from possible exposure to the dreaded disease which authorities said can be spread by bites, scratches and even the so-called rabid foam of an infected animal coming into contact with an open sore on someone or an animal and infecting them.

Maumelle Animal Control director Rita Cavenaugh said they received a call on March 20 from Brian Morris at #4 Cove Drive about a sickly skunk his two dogs were playing with.

She said her staff “de-capped” the skunk and sent the head to the state health department for inspection.

Cavenaugh noted her staff had been trained and their shots were up to date as they took precautions to cut the skunk’s head off without touching it. It was sent to the state lab the same day and when it was confirmed as rabies the dogs that came in contact with the skunk were placed in isolation quarantine until May 4 for the public’s protection on their owner’s property, by order of Dr. Susan Weinstein, State Public Health Veterinarian at the Arkansas Department of Health.

Cavenaugh said the two dog’s owners, Jane Barnes will be responsible for paying for the 45 to 60 days boarding for the two animals while quarantined if they couldn’t be kept in their yard for some reason.

Cavenaugh also said quarantine signs were placed in the yard where the skunk was found on Cove Drive to warn children and others to stay away.

Weinstein cautioned Maumelle about its practice of capturing and relocating skunks because she said the symptoms of rabies ordinarily only show up near the end. Doing so could spread the rabies to the areas where the skunks are relocated.

Normally Maumelle relocates about 50 skunks a year, Cavenaugh said.

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