The New Mexico Department of Health has confirmed rabies in five wild animals recovered in southwest New Mexico. All five of the rabid animals were reported at or near a residence and acted aggressively towards people.
They include a fox near Datil in Catron County, a bobcat near Mimbres in Grant County, a fox from the Kingston area in Sierra County, and a fox and a bobcat both in reserve preservation land areas. That’s in addition to a visitor who was reported bitten by a fox with rabies near Winston on May 3.
“Rabies is a deadly viral disease that can be prevented, but not cured,” said Tim Hanosh, State Public Health Veterinarian. The virus lives in the saliva of rabid animals and is spread to people or other animals through a bite.
“Any person or animal who comes in contact with saliva from a rabid animal can be at risk of getting rabies too and should seek medical treatment immediately,” Hanosh said.
Rabies can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. In the United States, rabies is mostly found in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes.
Avoiding contact with wild animals is the surest way of protecting family members, pets, and livestock from being exposed to the disease. In addition, all dogs, cats, and horses should be vaccinated against rabies.
On rare occasions, the disease has been found in livestock. Livestock owners are advised to follow guidance provided by their veterinarian regarding vaccinating their animals.
“Our conservation officers have been trained to safely capture and restrain wild animals,” said Tim Cimbal, Colonel of Game and Fish Field Operations. “They have appropriate equipment and supplies to handle wild mammals.”
Wildlife acting oddly, especially foxes, bobcats, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, and bats can be reported to the Department of Game and Fish by calling 505-476-8000 or after business hours call the New Mexico State Police non-emergency phone number 505-841-9256. The public should immediately call the New Mexico Department of Health at 505-827-0006 anytime, day or night, including weekends and holidays, if they or their pets are bitten or otherwise exposed to the saliva of wild animals.
Keeping pets under observation when outdoors, avoiding leaving any pet food or scraps outside, keeping your outdoor garbage cans tightly sealed, and alerting the authorities listed if you see any abnormally acting wildlife are essential to helping prevent rabies from spreading.