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Home News Fourth Rabid Skunk Confirmed in Curry County for 2019
David Morgan
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Fourth Rabid Skunk Confirmed in Curry County for 2019

August 7, 2019 - Zoonotic Diseases - Disease

Public Encouraged to Keep Animals’ Rabies Vaccinations Up-To-Date

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announced today a skunk that interacted with a pet dog in Curry County has tested positive for rabies, bringing the total number of confirmed rabid skunks within the county to four in 2019.

A fox was also reported positive for rabies in May for a total of five rabid animals in this county this year.  There was no human exposure to the disease.  Since the dog was up to date on rabies vaccination, the pet only required an additional booster and then home monitoring for any illnesses for the next 45 days.

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that can affect all mammals and can be prevented, but not cured. The large majority of rabies cases reported in the United States to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like skunks, bats, foxes, and raccoons.

Rabies vaccination of dogs and cats in New Mexico is mandated by state law. Unvaccinated pets that are exposed to a rabid animal either need to be euthanized or be put in strict isolation at the owner’s expense for six months to prevent them from exposing others to rabies. When pets and valuable livestock are vaccinated against rabies, not only are they protected against this deadly disease, but they also provide a ring of protection against this disease being transmitted to people and the wider community. Curry County veterinarians have been assisting the effort to provide awareness and rabies vaccinations for pets in the area.

A skunk that tests positive for rabies is an indication that there may be other wildlife in the area with the disease. People need to avoid contact with all wild animals since several species are known to carry rabies. If you are bitten by a wild animal, seek medical attention immediately. There is a reliable antidote for treating a rabid animal bite or exposure to a person, but it needs to be addressed urgently with a medical provider in consultation with the NMDOH

The following guidelines can help protect you and your family from rabies:

  • Be a good friend to your pet: up-to-date rabies vaccinations and current license tags and identification for your pet could save their life.
  • Healthy puppies and kittens can receive their first rabies vaccination from your veterinarian at 12 weeks of age to ensure they are protected early in life.
  • Keep pets on a leash at all times. If your cat or dog has been bitten or scratched, call your pet’s veterinarian, even if the wound is superficial.
  • Horses and other livestock should be considered for rabies vaccination to protect them from rabid animals that may attack them.
  • Avoid feeding wild animals to prevent animal bites and to prevent familiarity with human foods. Healthy wild animals that lose their fear of humans can be mistaken as being sick and destroyed unnecessarily.
  • If you or a loved-one are bitten by an animal, or come into contact with an animal’s saliva, wash the exposed site immediately with soap and water for 10-15 minutes.  Be sure to report the bite to local Animal Control and seek medical care as soon as possible.
  • If you see a sick or dead wild animal, or any wild animal acting abnormally in your area, report it to the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish at (505) 476-8000. If you see an unowned cat or dog acting abnormally call your local Animal Control or Sheriff’s office.  Rabid animals may show no fear of people and may even seem friendly or become aggressive.

For more information about rabies call the Reporting & Surveillance hotline at 505-827-0006 or visit the Rabies section of New Mexico Department of Health.

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.

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