PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Department of Health (RI DOH) are advising people who live near Roy Carpenter's Beach, South Kingstown, that a skunk in the area tested positive for rabies. The skunk attacked a person on Saturday, August 15. The skunk was captured, euthanized and submitted for rabies testing at the State Health Laboratory where it was confirmed to be positive for the rabies virus. All known exposed people have been evaluated and are undergoing treatment. The concern is that other people or pets may have had contact with this animal, but have not come forward to be evaluated for risk.
Anyone who may have had any physical contact with a skunk or any wild animal in the Roy Carpenter's Beach area of South Kingstown should call RI DOH immediately (401-222-2577, Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; 401-272-5952 after hours). Anyone who has a pet that may have had contact with a skunk or any wild animal in this area should contact South Kingstown Animal Control at 401-783-3321. (This is the same number for the South Kingstown Police Department; therefore reports of contact can be made at any time.)
DEM and RI DOH remind all Rhode Islanders that rabies is a serious public health issue. Once symptoms appear, rabies is fatal in people and in animals. Rabies treatment is available for people who may have been exposed to rabies, but it must be started as soon as possible after exposure. All dogs, cats and ferrets are required by state law to have current vaccination against rabies. Vaccination of pets prevents them from contracting rabies and prevents people from becoming exposed to rabies through their pets.
RI DOH and DEM make the following recommendations:
• Make sure all dogs, cats, and ferrets are up to date on rabies vaccination. It is the law.
• Avoid all contact with and do not feed stray or free-roaming domestic animals.
• Avoid all contact with and do not feed wild animals.
• Do not feed your animals outdoors, as this will attract other animals. This is especially dangerous when feeding large numbers of free-roaming cats.
• Protect your pets by always maintaining control; walk dogs on a leash or let them play in a fenced yard, and do not let pets wander unsupervised.
• Report all animal bites to your city/town's animal control officer.
• Securely cover all garbage cans so wild animals cannot scavenge for food.
For more information, visit www.health.ri.gov/diseases/rabies or www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/rabies.htm.