Health Department urges pet vaccinations in wake of attack by rabid fox

Posted at: 03/28/2013 2:18 PM
By: staff

The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed rabies in a fox that attacked a young dog recently at a home in Socorro County. The attack happened March 23, about a mile south of Magdalena.

In a news release, the department said tissue samples from the fox were submitted to the Department of Health’s Scientific Laboratory Division tested positive for rabies.

The young dog that was attacked had no history of rabies vaccination and had to be euthanized. No persons or other pets or livestock are known to have been bitten by the rabid fox.

“It’s tragic this pet had not been vaccinated against rabies and had to be euthanized so that children and other family members would not be put at unnecessary risk and exposure to a very dangerous and fatal disease,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, Public Health Veterinarian for the Department of Health. “There is the potential for other foxes in the area to be spreading rabies so it becomes very important that all dogs and cats get a rabies vaccination as soon as possible.”

The last confirmed animal rabies cases in Socorro County were a calf and a bat, both in 2009.

The following guidelines issued by the department can help protect you and your family from rabies:

• Keep pets on a leash at all times. Pets should be up-to-date on rabies vaccinations and wearing current license tags on their collar. If your cat or dog has been bitten or scratched, call your pet’s veterinarian, even if the wound is superficial.

• Horses and other valuable livestock should be considered for rabies vaccination also to protect them from wild rabid animals that may attack them.

• Stay away from wild or unfamiliar animals. Do not attempt to feed, approach, or touch wild animals (alive or dead). Teach this important message to your children and keep a close eye on your kids at all times.

• If you see a sick or dead wild animal, or a wild animal acting abnormally in this area, report it to your local animal control authorities. Rabid animals may show no fear of people and may even seem friendly or become aggressive.

• Don’t leave pet food, water, or filled garbage cans out overnight as this could attract wild animals to your home.

If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal or a pet, the Department of Health recommends the following guidelines:

• Wash all wounds and contact areas thoroughly with soap and water.

• Contact your physician immediately for evaluation. The Department of Health is available to physicians for consultation about rabies at (505) 827-0006.

• Call the local animal control department to report the incident; provide them with an accurate description of the animal.

• Try to keep the animal confined, but don’t risk further injury if the animal is dangerous.

• Keep children away from all animals involved in the incident.

For more information about rabies visit the Department of Health’s website.