After many years of not having to worry with rabies in Grant County it has reappeared in our area.
So far there have been five foxes, two bobcats and a coyote test postive for rabies in 2009
There were 64 possible rabid animals in Grant County in 2008. There were fourteen foxes and one dog test postive in
Grant County, two foxes in neighboring Catron County and one fox each in Sierra and Hidalgo Counties in 2008.
Eight foxes and one bobcat tested postive in Catron County in 2007
City/County and State laws require rabies vaccines for all dogs and cats.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a very serious viral infection of the central nervous system that can be contracted from the bite, scratch, or lick of an infected animal.
If rabies is not treated before symptoms begin, it almost always results in death.
The virus is relatively slow moving, it must travel from the infection site through the nervous system till it reaches the brain. Average incubation from exposure to brain involvement is between 3 to 8 weeks in dog, 2 to 6 weeks in cats and 3 to 6 weeks in humans. However, incubation periods as long as 6 months in dogs and 12 months in people have been reported. This is due to in part to were the infection site is located, for example an animal bitten in the face would probably show symptoms sooner than an animal bitten on its back foot. This is because of the difference in distance from the infection site to the brain. Once in the brain the infection moves into the salivary glands where it can be spread through a bite.
Which animals can be infected?
Rabies is most often found among wild mammals such as raccoons, bats, skunks, coyotes, bobcats, and foxes. Cats, dogs, horses and livestock can also get rabies if they are not vaccinated for their protection. Deer and large rodents, such as woodchucks, have been found rabid in areas affected by rabies.
Skunks infected with rabies may show no symptoms but can become lifelong carriers of the virus.
Some animals almost never get rabies. These include rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, mice, guinea pigs, gerbils and hamsters. They can get rabies, but it almost never happens.
Other animals, such as birds, snakes, fish, turtles, lizards and insects, never get rabies.
How do I recognize a rabid animal?
In any animal, the first sign of rabies is a marked change in behavior. It may become either unnaturally withdrawn or unnaturally approachable. Nocturnal animals (fox, skunk, raccoon) active in daylight are suspect. In the furious form of rabies, the animal is excited, irritable, aggressive, and may bite or snap at anything in its path. If the animal has dumb rabies, it will seem unusually tame and friendly. Staggering, convulsions or frothing at the mouth are sometimes seen in the later stages of either form of the disease.
What to do if you are bitten...
If the animal is alive, try to capture it so it can be tested for rabies or quarantined. Try to prevent further biting and scratching in the capture.
If the animal escapes, try to remember what it looked like.
If the animal is dead, save it for examination. Protect your hands with heavy plastic or gloves. Try not to damage the head.
Immediately wash your wound with lots of soap and water. Scrub the bitten area gently.
Get medical help. DO NOT DELAY. Call your family doctor or closest hospital emergency room.
Report the incident to the police or animal control.
If the biting animal is a pet dog or cat, get the owner's name, address, and phone number. Find out if the animal has a current rabies shot and write down the rabies tag number.
If your pet or livestock has been bitten by a possibly rabid animal and you must handle your animal within two hours of the incident, wear gloves and afterwards be sure to wash your hands very well with soap and water.
Try to capture the possibly rabid animal. Call your veterinarian.
How is Rabies treated
If an apparently healthy domestic dog or cat bites a human in an unprovoked manner, it must be captured, confined and observed daily for at least 10 days following the bite. If the animal remains healthy during this period, the animal did not transmit rabies at the time of the bite.
A wild animal such as a bat, fox, skunk, or raccoon which has bitten a person or domestic animal should be sacrificed immediately. It should be submitted to the state testing laboratory for examination.
If a rabies-suspect biting animal cannot be observed or tested, or it tests positive for the virus, treatment must begin immediately. Human treatment consists of a dose of rabies-immune globulin administered as soon as possible after exposure. The first of five doses of rabies vaccine is given at the same time, with the remaining injections administered one at a time on days 3, 7, 14 and 28 following the initial injection.
If an unvaccinated family pet is bitten by a rabid animal, that family pet should be euthanized. There is no cure once an animal has been infected.
There have been no vaccine failures in the United States when postexposure prophylaxis was given promptly and appropriately after exposure. While the treatment is safe, there can be side effects. So, it is only used when there has been exposure to a confirmed or suspected rabid animal
There is NO drug treatment for rabies after symptoms of the disease appear.
How can I protect my family from rabies?
Be sure your dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. New Mexico state law requires a current vaccination for all cats, dogs and ferrets beginning at three months of age. Pets too young to be vaccinated should be kept indoors.
Keep family pets indoors at night. Don't leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.
Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans, litter, or pet food. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Don't not try to nurse sick animals back to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
Feed pets indoors. Tightly cap or put away garbage cans. If you must feed your pet outside, remove any uneaten food at once.
Board up openings in your attic, basement, porch or garage. Provide bright exterior lights to discourage nocturnal animals. Block any means of entry to foundations, porches and steps. Cap your chimney with screens.
Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. Encourage children to tell an adult immediately, if they are bitten or scratched by any animal.
Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to the district Game and Fish department.
If a wild animal is on your property, let it wander away. Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors who are outside.
Why does my pet need the rabies vaccine?
Although the majority of rabies cases occur in wildlife, most humans are given rabies vaccine as a result of exposure to domestic animals. This explains the tremendous cost of rabies prevention in domestic animals in the United States. While wildlife are more likely to be rabid than are domestic animals in the U.S., the amount of human contact with domestic animals greatly exceeds the amount of contact with wildlife. When "spillover" rabies occurs in domestic animals, the risk to humans is increased. Pets are therefore vaccinated by your veterinarian to prevent them from acquiring the disease from wildlife, and thereby transmitting it to humans.
Who to call
Southwest district office for Fish and Game in Las Cruces 575-532-2100
High Desert Humane Society in Silver City 575-538-9261
Silver City Central Dispatch 575-388-8840
Deming Animal Shelter 575-546-2024