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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Woman kills rabid skunk

Friday, May 24, 2002

A rabid skunk is no match for a hammer-wielding grandma.Willie Rogers, 74, took quick action after she was bitten in the foot by a rabid skunk Jan. 7 behind her rural Viola home.That afternoon Rogers was repairing the wire fence around her chicken yard after noticing that a wild animal she assumes was the skunk had dug under the wire and was killing chickens."All of a sudden one just came up and bit me on the foot," she recalls.She was holding a sledge hammer in one hand. "So I just hit him on the head with that," she said. She didn't kill the skunk with the hammer but held it down so it couldn't escape. The skunk raised its tail up over its back. "I thought, here it comes," she said, but to her surprise, the skunk did not spray."I reached back with my other hand and grabbed a shovel and finished him off," she said. "I was determined to get him. Skunks don't usually come out at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and attack. I thought of rabies first thing."Rogers put the skunk in a bag and set it in the back of her truck. She went to her doctor who gave her a tetanus shot, and then she called her veterinarian. The veterinarian sent the skunk's head to the Arkansas Department of Health, and two days later she got the results; the skunk was rabid and she would have to undergo a series of shots that comprise the rabies vaccination.Rogers had more trouble obtaining the vaccine than she did killing the skunk."They could not find any vaccine in the state of Arkansas," she exclaimed.State epidemiologist Dr. Tom McChesney said cuts in state funding combined with an unusually high number of rabies cases this year have wiped out the state's supply of the rabies vaccine. But Rogers was finally able to track down the vaccine in Florida and had it shipped to a clinic in Mountain Home.She took seven shots over the next two months. The first two shots were given the first day, one in each hip. Rogers said those two shots were given with a large needle and "burned." But the remaining shots, given one at a time in the arm, seven to 10 days apart, were relatively painless."I was pleasantly surprised," she said, remembering hearing tales of how painful the vaccinations had been at one time.Fortunately, Rogers had insurance to help cover the $1,175 cost for the vaccinations, not including the office visit, tetanus shot or the administration of the vaccination. But she criticized the health department for not providing the vaccination for citizens who need it. "I think there should be some provision," she said.After the incident Rogers declared war on the skunk population, trapping two more and shooting them with her .22-caliber rifle.The Health Department placed Fulton County under a rabies alert after three positive tests on skunks from the county this year. But according to James Tanner with the Fulton County Health Unit, there have been no new cases since mid April. He said rabies has thinned out the skunk population."They've died out, and the breeding season is over, so they're calming down," he said.Fulton County will remain in a rabies alert until next spring. Tanner said pet owners need to make sure their dogs and cats are vaccinated against rabies, not only because it's required by law, but as a precaution against contracting rabies from an infected pet.

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