Eddy Co., Health Dept. launch rabies survey

Posted at: 01/24/2013 5:57 PM
Updated at: 01/24/2013 6:32 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

For Annie Miller, vaccinating her pets against rabies was a no-brainer.

“We want to take care of our pets, they're like our kids, and we protect our kids, so why not protect our animals?” Miller said.

But some people don’t vaccinate their animals, expecting they won’t come into contact with rabies. But experts say it’s more likely than they might think.

“Our pets interact with wildlife a lot more on a day to day basis than we do, a lot of the times we may have no idea what they’re interacting with,” local veterinarian Samantha Uhrig said. “If they get exposed to rabies and then expose us, it puts us at a great risk.”

Last year, more than 100 animals in Eddy County were euthanized because they were exposed to rabies and not vaccinated. 29 people were also exposed.

To curb the epidemic, the state Department of Health and multiple local organizations have launched a survey to find some answers that will lead to solutions.

 “This survey's going to be asking people questions so we understand how many pets there are in the county, how many of those are vaccinated, and what's making it difficult for families to vaccinate their pets,” Dr. Carrie McNeil of the Department of Health and CDC says. “For a person it's fatal 100 percent of the time unless it’s treated right away and that's why we want to make sure people understand how great the risk for rabies is.” 

Officials say the survey will only take 10 minutes, so they hope everyone they ask will take the time to answer those questions.

Miller hopes  it will raise awareness and help more people to vaccinate.

“So that way if a child gets bit on the street, it protects your children, and other adults and people from getting the disease,” Miller said.