Rabid cow confirmed in Madison County - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Rabid cow confirmed in Madison County

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LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) confirmed Tuesday that a cow died last week of rabies near Kingston in Madison County.

Rabies in Arkansas is most often found in skunks. Reports of cattle being infected with rabies are uncommon, but in 2012 there were three in the state. This is the first one reported for 2013 but 14 skunks and one dog have already tested positive as well.

This beef cow undoubtedly got infected by a bite from a rabid skunk, probably 4-12 weeks before showing any symptoms. Rabies is not transmitted to people through cooked beef or pasteurized milk. Pasteurization and cooking will kill the rabies virus, so drinking pasteurized milk or eating animal products - so long as they are thoroughly cooked - does not put you in danger of rabies exposure.

Susan Weinstein, DVM, Arkansas Public Health veterinarian, said that the presence of rabies in one animal in the area is a warning sign.

"What we know is that when we find a cow or a skunk with rabies in a local area, there are usually more rabid skunks in the wild that will never be discovered," Weinstein said. "That puts the local animal population at risk, especially dogs, cats and livestock."

If you think you have become exposed to an animal with rabies, wash your wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Contact your physician and county health unit immediately to report the incident. The animal in question should be captured, if possible, without damaging its head or risking further exposure.

What can you do to protect yourselves against rabies?

  • Be sure your dogs and cats 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. Do not let any animal escape that has possibly exposed someone to rabies. 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, call your county Health Unit, or Dr. Weinstein at (501) 280-4136.