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July 21, 2014
LITTLE ROCK -- More than 100 cases of rabies were reported in Arkansas as of June
24, a number almost double the normal level that state health and animal science experts
attributed to a greater awareness of rabies symptoms in infected animals.
“It has been increasing,” said Tom Troxel, associate head of animal science for the
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Last year, there was a total
of 152 cases; in 2012, there were 131 cases; and 60 cases in 2011. The reason of the
outbreak is unknown, he said.
“It is already double” the usual number of cases, Arkansas Public Health Veterinarian,
Susan Weinstein, said. “Skunks and bats are the reservoir” for the rabies virus.
Of the 103 cases, 86 are confirmed in skunks, Troxel said. Pulaski and Lonoke counties
have the most cases - 26 for Pulaski and 13 for Lonoke. Widespread publicity about
rabies cases in the two counties may be the reason of the high number of reported
cases. People are more aware and submit more suspicious animals, Weinstein said.
“The peak time for rabies cases is March and April, with a smaller rise again in late
summer and early fall,” she said.
Even though Weinstein doesn't expect to see another 100 cases during the rest of this
year, this number is still very high.
If the number continues, surely it will be a record breaking, Troxel said.
Rabies is a deadly viral disease that affects the nervous system of mammals, according
to the Arkansas Department of Health. It is considered one of the most infectious
diseases and is fatal for both animals and people, Weinstein said.
To prevent rabies
Make sure pets are vaccinated by licensed veterinarian and don’t rely on over-the-counter
rabies medication, Troxel added. There has been one case of rabid dog and two cases
of rabid cats this year.
Stay away from wildlife, especially those whose behavior is different from normal.
Skunks and bats are nocturnal animals, so if they are out during the day, it may be
a sign that they are rabid, he said. Be sure pets and children also stay away from
bats and skunks during the day.
Possible exposure to rabid animals needs to be taken seriously, Weinstein said. People
tend to ignore reporting bat bites, thinking it’s not dangerous, she added. There
are series of injections that can be done to prevent rabies. Once the symptoms appear,
the disease can’t be treated, she said.
If you see a suspicious skunk, bat, or other wildlife, report to an animal control
To view the Rabies 2014 map and learn more about rabies, visit the Arkansas Department
of Health’s website www.healthy.arkansas.gov.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers its programs to all
eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age,
disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Kezia NandaFor the Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org