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Fox in Fort Sumner tests positive for rabies

DE BACA COUNTY – On Tuesday, July 17, a landowner near Fort Sumner, who killed a fox exhibiting behaviors common with rabies, contacted Conservation Officer Jacob Laobato. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish submitted the fox for testing at the State Laboratory Division. Results came back positive for rabies.

“The public should be vigilant and stay away from any animals behaving strangely,” said Dr. Kerry Mower, wildlife disease specialist for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. “People should ensure their pets’ vaccinations are current.”

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, in addition to the fox, one skunk has tested positive for rabies this year in De Baca County.

“Wildlife acting sick, fearless, aggressive or friendly should be considered a threat and avoided,” Mower said.

Rabies is a viral disease that can be transferred between mammals, most commonly through aggressive behavior such as biting. It is a disease that is found in warm blooded mammals such as bats, skunks, coyotes, foxes and racoons, but can be transferred to humans and pets.

The public should contact their local Department of Game and Fish office or call radio dispatch at (505) 827-9376 for assistance with suspicious wildlife such as skunks, raccoons, foxes and bats. The public should contact the New Mexico Department of Health at (505) 827-0006 if they or their pet are bitten or otherwise potentially exposed to the saliva of wild animals.

Here are some guidelines to help protect yourself 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. Rabid animals may show no fear of people and may seem friendly or become aggressive.
Pets should be up to date on rabies vaccinations and wearing current license tags on their collar.

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

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. Be sure to report the bite to local animal control and/or health officials as soon as possible for recommendations about receiving rabies exposure preventive vaccine and seek medical care as soon as possible.

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 appears to be superficial.

If you see a sick or dead wild animal, or a wild animal acting abnormally, stay away and report it to authorities. For more info about rabies see the New Mexico Department of Health website at: https://nmhealth.org/about/erd/ideb/zdp/rab/.