The Sherwood City Council was advised on Monday that a rabid cat was trapped within the city limits on April 24.
The Sherwood Animal Services Department received notification from the Arkansas Department of Health late on the afternoon of April 25 that the trapped cat had tested positive for rabies.
"Arkansas rabies law requires that all dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies by four months of age by a licensed veterinarian," said Robin Breaux, director of the city’s animal services department. "One shot is not enough; rabies vaccinations must be kept current so talk with your veterinarian about when your pet needs its rabies booster shot. Even inside animals need to be kept current on their rabies vaccinations since bats occasionally get into our houses."
Breaux said vaccinating pets protects the animals and acts as a barrier between the wildlife exposures of rabies and people since pets are more likely to be exposed to a rabid skunk or bat directly than people.
"Any animal given rabies vaccine by an owner with an over-the-counter product cannot be counted as vaccinated as there are no assurance the vaccine was stored or given properly," she said.
Sherwood’s animal control ordinance requires proof of a valid rabies vaccination before a city pet license can be issued. City pet licenses are required for all dogs and cats housed in the city of Sherwood.
"If an apparently healthy, domesticated dog or cat bites a person, it must be captured, confined and observed daily for 10 days following the bite," Breaux said. "If the animal remains healthy during this period of time, it did not transmit rabies at the time of the bite. The brain tissue of all wild animals must be tested for rabies if human exposure has occurred."
Breaux said if anyone finds a bat in their home, it should be isolated to one room. People should then leave the room and close the door.
"Call either an animal control officer or a nuisance wildlife control company to capture the bat for testing," she said. "Most human rabies cases in the United States are due to unrecognized or unreported exposure to bats. Most bats do not carry rabies; only about 2-3 percent of bats are infected. But we cannot tell if wildlife are infected by looking at them and a laboratory test is needed."
How can a person protect themselves from rabies?
• Be sure dogs, cats and ferrets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations;
• Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals or stray cats or dogs around your home;
• 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 by 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.
Breaux said people should report animal bites or contact with wild animals to the nearest local health unit and then contact their local animal control department.
"Do not let the animal escape that has possibly exposed someone to rabies," Breaux said. "Depending on the species, an animal can be observed or tested for rabies in order to avoid the need for rabies treatment."
For more information, contact the Pulaski County Health Units at: Jacksonville, 982-7477; North Little Rock, 791-8551; Pulaski Central, 280-3100; or Susan Weinstein, DVM, state public health veterinarian, 280-4136.
Breaux said Sherwood has live catch traps available for use by city residents to trap feral or stay cats and and wildlife.
"Sherwood Animal Services officers will capture wildlife or bats that are found inside the living quarters of a home within the Sherwood city limits," she said.
The city will capture the wildlife during regular business hours by calling the department at 834-2287. During after-hours, call the city police department at 835-1425.
If bats are found in the attic, people should call the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for a list of nuisance bat handlers by phoning 800-364-4263 or visiting www.agfc.com.