The Arkansas Department of Health confirms that a dog has tested positive for rabies in Conway.
ADH said the dog, which had not been vaccinated against rabies, had been living in someone’s backyard for six to seven months.
The dog was captured last week, and placed into a pet cage. A person was bitten by the dog before animal services arrived to take the animal, the health department said. The affected person has received preventive vaccines.
According to state law, all dogs and cats are required to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Vaccinations purchased over-the-counter and given by the owner are not considered valid, the health department states. Dogs or cats not vaccinated that are exposed to rabies are required to undergo a strict six-month quarantine or be euthanized.
"Whenever a cat or dog gets rabies, there are always people exposed to the animal, and individuals must have a series of preventive shots so that they do not get rabies," state public health veterinarian Susan Weinstein said in a statement. "This is very expensive and time consuming."
A rabid cat was also discovered in Conway in 2012. In all, 131 animals in Arkansas, including 101 skunks, 22 bats, three cows and one cat, tested positive for rabies in 2012. So far, 116 skunks, 26 bats, three cats, one cow, three dogs and one horse have tested positive in 2013.
The 150 positive tests is triple the normal average of 50 rabid animals per year.
To protect against rabies, the health department advises:
•Be sure your dogs, cats and ferrets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
•Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals.
•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 bat 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.
Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to the local health unit. For more information, call the Faulkner County Health Unit at 501-450-4941 or Susan Weinstein at 501-280-4136.