AUGUSTA — City officials are urging those who live near Northern Avenue to use extra caution after a skunk was found to have rabies.

The state’s Health and Environment Testing Laboratory tested the skunk Sept. 7, and the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention notified Augusta officials Wednesday morning of the results.

Haley Jaramillo Gauvin, Augusta’s director of communications and marketing, said city officials are asking residents not to leave their pets unattended.

Rabies, a preventable viral disease, is transmitted when an infected animal bites or scratches another animal or person. It can also be spread if saliva or brain tissue comes in contact with a cut or the mouth, nose or eyes.

In Maine, rabies, which can be fatal if untreated, is most common in skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes, according to public health officials.

Earlier this year, a spate of animal attacks in Topsham was believed due in part to a new strain of rabies common in raccoons that was infecting gray foxes.

But even as the number of attacks in the southern midcoast area of Maine has been on the rise, state officials say the number of rabid animals across Maine has been stable.

Residents of the Northern Avenue area are asked to report any animals exhibiting unusual behavior to the Augusta Police Department at 207-626-2370.

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