LITTLE ROCK – The City of Little Rock informed residents to be on the lookout for skunks infected with the rabies virus Friday. In the past few weeks, the Arkansas Department of Health has confirmed three skunks captured inside the City of Little Rock were infected with the virus.
"There have been no reports of pets or humans being harmed by these infected skunks. We want residents to be aware that they should report any sick or injured wildlife to Little Rock Animal Services," said Tracy Roark, Little Rock Animal Services Manager.
Little Rock Animal Services can be reached at (501) 376-3067. After hours, residents should call (501) 371-4829 to report any sick or injured wildlife.
Roark suggested some important tips for protecting family pets.
"All dogs and cats should be inoculated against the rabies virus, in fact state law and city code require pets to be vaccinated. Similarly, pets should never be allowed to run loose within the City limits, they should be on a leash when being walked and kept either inside the house or a fenced-in area as required by City code," said Roark.
It is inadvisable to leave food outside for pets as it attracts wildlife. If pets are fed outside, pick up any remaining food after an hour.
Infected skunks are often identifiable because they are stumbling or circling and do not seem to know where they are going. Also, skunks are naturally nocturnal so skunks seen during the day are more likely to be infected.
"Rabies in wildlife, like skunks, is a serious issue especially in an urban area situated so close to the natural habitat of wild animals," said State Public Health Veterinarian Susan Weinstein, DVM, MPH. "People should avoid coming into contact with animals they suspect to be sick or injured and should report them to the proper agency immediately."
The infected skunks have been discovered from West Little Rock to Central Little Rock.