NMDOH reports that rabies have been confirmed in five skunks so far this year in New Mexico and warn pet owners to get their pets and livestock vaccinated against rabies. Courtesy photo
SANTA FE ― The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reports that rabies have been confirmed in five skunks this year discovered in De Baca, Curry, Quay and Colfax counties.
The NMDOH is warning pet owners throughout New Mexico to make sure their dogs, cats, horses and other livestock get vaccinated against rabies.
Residents and visitors are reminded to be aware of strangely behaving wild animals or oddly acting unowned domestic animals. Pet owners are encouraged to keep their pets on a leash to prevent an exposure to a wild animal and to have their rabies vaccinations up-to-date.
Epidemiologists with NMDOH are coordinating with Department of Game and Fish officers to heighten surveillance of wild animals, particularly skunks that appear to be acting strangely (out in the middle of the day, aggressive toward humans or pets, etc.) They also are collaborating with local Animal Control agencies to evaluate feral and unowned domestic animals living near the location the rabid skunks were found.
“As spring warms up, and people enjoy outdoor activities, we want to remind residents and visitors to stay away from wild or unfamiliar animals and encourage pet owners to keep their pets on a leash and have their rabies vaccinations up-to-date,” NMDOH Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel said.
The following guidelines can help protect you and your family from rabies:
- Stay away from wild or other unfamiliar animals. Don’t touch wild animals (alive or dead). Share this important message with your children.
- Be a good friend to your pet: up-to-date rabies vaccinations and current license tags and identification for your pet could save his/her life!
- Healthy puppies and kittens can receive their first rabies vaccination at 12 weeks of age to ensure they are protected early in life.
- Keep pets on a leash at all times. If your cat or dog has been bitten or scratched, call your pet’s veterinarian, even if the wound is superficial.
- Avoid feeding wild animals to prevent animal bites and to prevent familiarity with human foods. Healthy wild animals that lose their fear of humans can be mistaken as being sick and destroyed unnecessarily.
- If you or a loved-one are bitten by an animal, or come into contact with an animal’s saliva, wash the exposed site immediately with soap and water for 10-15 minutes. Be sure to report the bite to local Animal Control and seek medical care as soon as possible.
- If you see a sick or dead wild animal, or any wild animal acting abnormally in your area,report it to New Mexico Department of Game and Fish at 505.476.8000.
- If you see an unowned cat or dog acting abnormally call your local Animal Control or Sheriff’s office. Rabid animals may show no fear of people and may even seem friendly or become aggressive.
For more information about rabies, call the NMDOH Reporting & Surveillance hotline at 505.827.0006 or visit the Rabies section at https://nmhealth.org/.