Monday, February 22, 2010

Rabies in a Raccoon, Fox from Sierra County

For Immediate release:
February 22, 2010

Department of Health Confirms Rabies in a Raccoon, Fox from Sierra County
Owners Urged to Vaccinate Their Pets, Horses

(Santa Fe) – A raccoon and a fox found dead on ranchland in Sierra County have tested positive for rabies. No known human or pet exposures were reported. The New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish are urging pet and livestock owners in Sierra County and surrounding areas to protect their dogs, cats, horses and other valuable livestock by getting them vaccinated against rabies.

The raccoon was submitted by a private veterinarian, and a New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officer picked up the fox last week. Both animals were found on ranchland about 15 miles southwest of Truth or Consequences and tested positive at the Department of Health’s Scientific Laboratory in Albuquerque. Testing done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta confirmed that both animals had the Arizona gray fox rabies strain. Fox rabies has been a problem for several decades in Arizona and spread into western New Mexico and was first detected in the Glenwood area in 2007.

“Since first finding fox rabies in Catron County in 2007 there has been steady animal-to-animal movement of the virus into Grant, Hidalgo, and Sierra counties,” said Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian with the health department. “These latest cases demonstrate a significant eastward movement of the fox rabies strain past the Gila and Black Range and closer to human and animal populations in the Rio Grande valley.”

Pet dogs and cats that roam and hunt can come into contact with rabid animals and potentially transmit it to people, it is very important to make sure all dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. Several pet dogs have been euthanized because they were not vaccinated against rabies and were bitten by a rabid fox.

If you see a sick or dead wild animal or a wild animal that is acting abnormally in this area, report it to New Mexico Department of Game and Fish at (505) 532-2100. Rabid animals may show no fear of people and may even seem friendly or become aggressive.

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