BATH — A skunk killed in Bath on Monday was the seventh animal to test positive for rabies in the city so far this year. There were two cases last year and none in 2017, police said.

Police say the skunk ran into a resident’s yard on York Street, where it was attacked by a pair of dogs. Police arrived soon afterward, killed the skunk and took it to the Health and Environmental Testing Lab in Augusta for testing. The animal tested positive for rabies the next day.

York Street is located about a mile north of Route 1, near Dike Newell Elementary School.

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The dogs were up to date on their vaccinations. However, because of their exposure to rabies, they will be given boosters and kept under close watch at home.

Rabies is a viral disease that infects the nervous system of mammals. It is transmitted primarily through bites and exposure to saliva or spinal fluid from an infected animal. It attacks the nervous system, making the infected animal unusually aggressive, and is fatal.

Ann Harford, who has served as the city’s animal control officer for 28 years, said the number of cases in this year’s outbreak is not unusually high. However, Harford said she has been getting animal complaint calls daily, with many residents concerned about potentially rabid animals.

Bath police continue to encourage pet owners to vaccinate their pets and report suspicious sightings of possible rabid animals. Harford suggests that residents check for wild animals in the yard before going outside.

“It’s certainly a surprising amount of cases and interactions,” Bath Assistant City Manager Marc Meyers said. “I think the animal control officer and the police are responding to these incidents and doing what they can as part of this process.”

Monday’s incident occurred about three miles north of Bumpy Hill Road, where a rabid fox attacked a 6-year-old girl last week.

Julia Davis of Bath was playing outside at a friend’s house on Bumpy Hill Road when the fox attacked and chased her into the home. Davis was bitten on the leg before the homeowner chased the fox outside, where it was killed by the homeowner’s dog.

Bath Deputy Police Chief Andrew Booth said that people need to be aware that rabies is occurring in the area and that pets are up to date on their vaccinations. People should call the police if they see any animal acting strangely.

“It’s difficult because there’s not a whole lot we can do other than these cautionary measures,” Booth said.

As of Aug. 7, a total of 60 raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes and one ferret have tested positive this year for rabies, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Last year saw an increase of rabies incidents in Brunswick, where nine animals in Brunswick tested positive for rabies. Seven people were attacked by rabid foxes there in 2018.

Another three animals tested positive for rabies last year in Lisbon, two in Bath, four in Bowdoin and one in West Bath. Statewide, a total of 101 animals tested positive for rabies by the Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory and USDA APHIS Wildlife Services. The majority were raccoons (51), skunks (25), gray foxes (9) and bats (12).

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was spreading more than 300,000 rabies vaccine baits in northern Maine to stem the occurrences of rabies there. The USDA says it is cost-prohibitive and not logistically feasible to drop the oral vaccination baits statewide.

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