Alert: Rabies Outbreak in New Mexico
Thirty-two dogs, at least one cat, and a number of livestock have been euthanized following a rabies outbreak near Carlsbad, New Mexico. Twenty-two skunks, one dog, and one fox have tested positive for the disease, and twelve people in the county have been treated for post-rabies exposure.
Most of the deaths associated with this outbreak could have been prevented through proper vaccination, which is required by state law.
What is rabies and how do people get it?
Rabies is caused by a virus and has the potential to infect any warm-blooded mammal, including humans. In New Mexico, skunks, bats, and foxes are often the carriers of rabies, which can then be transmitted to pets or livestock. Rabid pets and livestock can then transmit the virus to people.
How is the rabies virus contracted?
The rabies virus is contained in the saliva and brain of rabid animals. Rabies can be transmitted through a bite or by getting saliva in a wound. (The virus is rarely contracted through the eyes or mouth.) Contact with blood, urine, feces, or merely petting a rabid animal are not considered rabies exposures.
If my pet has been vaccinated and is bitten by a rabid animal, is my pet safe?
If an animal that has been vaccinated is exposed to a rabid animal, it should receive a booster dose of rabies vaccine. Unvaccinated pets exposed to rabies must be euthanized or isolated for six months under the direction of local animal control.
Besides vaccinating my dogs, cats, and livestock, what else can I do to reduce rabies risk?
The best way to reduce rabies risk is by preventing pets from roaming. Keeping cats inside and directly supervising dogs when outside can greatly reduce the chances of a transmission. Always stay away from wild animals, especially if they seem sick, aggressive, or friendly, and teach your children that it is never safe to touch a wild animal.