On April 8, a dead skunk was found near the clubhouse of the Burns Park Golf Course in North Little Rock. The skunk was sent to the Arkansas Department of Health for testing.
Two days later, North Little Rock Animal Control was notified that the skunk tested positive for the rabies virus.
In accordance with North Little Rock Animal Control’s standard operating protocol when a test returns positive, the city notifies the public, according to a city press release.
"The City of North Little Rock wants to remind everyone of the state law and city ordinance that requires rabies vaccinations for pets," adds the press release. "Now is a great time to make sure everyone is following that law. This is the second skunk in the past two weeks to return positive. The public is urged to use caution around wildlife."
No known contact between the skunk and any humans or other animals occurred.
If the public has any questions they may call Animal Control at 791-8577.
According to the Information from the United States Centers for Disease Control, rabies in humans is rare in the United States. There are usually only one or two human cases per year. But the most common source of human rabies in the United States is from bats. For example, among the 19 naturally acquired cases of rabies in humans in the United States from 1997-2006, 17 were associated with bats. Among these, 14 patients had known encounters with bats.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health the number of rabies cases has increased annually since 2010.
There were 34 cases of rabies reported in 2010, 60 in 2011, 131 in 2012, and 152 in 2013. State statistics show there was a spike in 2002 with 131 cases reported, with the total being 32 in 2001 and 55 in 2004.
Of the cases in 2013, 26 animals sampled tested positive for rabies and 118 skunks. State records showed other animals testing positive were three cats, one cow, three dogs and one horse.
2013 statistics showed one bat tested positive for rabies and seven skunks. A total of 11.2 percent of the 1,362 animals examined tested positive for rabies. Most of the skunks last year which tested positive were discovered in March and April.