- Health Department urges parents to tell children not to handle wild animals and make sure pets are vaccinated
SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department announced today two bats from the South Valley of Albuquerque have tested positive for rabies in the last two weeks.
The bats were tested at the Department’s Scientific Laboratory Division.
The most recent bat tested positive Tuesday and had been found crawling on a woman’s bare foot before she kicked it away. She will be receiving a series of vaccinations to prevent her from developing rabies.
“Rabies is fatal in humans, but if you have been exposed to a rabid animal, it can be prevented by vaccination.” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “We want to make sure that people are aware that wildlife, such as a bat on the ground, should be avoided as they could be carrying diseases.”
Children should be reminded that they should never touch a bat and that they should always report any bat exposures to their parents immediately.
“In New Mexico, bats, skunks and foxes are reservoirs for rabies and can transmit rabies to people, pets, livestock or other wild animals,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian with the department. “We urge everyone to vaccinate their pets and livestock against rabies; vaccination is one of the most effective public health tools we have to prevent humans from being exposed to rabies.”
“The City of Albuquerque can respond to reports of sick or dead wildlife, and in some cases will investigate possible disease. Citizens of Albuquerque can contact 311 to file a report,” said Dr. Mark DiMenna with the City of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department. “This helps to prevent the community from being exposed to dangerous illness like rabies, and also provides our public health staff with an idea of the prevalence of wildlife diseases.”
The following guidelines can help protect you and your family from rabies:
- 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, report it to your local animal control authorities. Rabid animals may show no fear of people and may even seem friendly or become aggressive.
- 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 minor.
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 a healthcare provider immediately for evaluation. The Department of Health is available to providers for consultation about rabies 24/7 at 505.827.0006.
- Call the local animal control department to report the incident and provide the department 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 at http://archive.nmhealth.org/ERD/HealthData/rabies.shtml