The discovery of rabid foxes and coyotes near Young has prompted the Gila County Health Department to issue a warning and ask people to report abnormal wildlife behavior in the Young and Pleasant Valley areas.
A fox and coyote killed in Young in the past month have tested positive for rabies. In addition, a second fox found dead also tested positive. Health officials learned May 1 that a fox and coyote found at Forest Road and Mule Track Road, tested positive for rabies. The Gila County Rabies Control officers are responding to this situation and have increased surveillance in the Young area. No animal or human bites or exposures have been reported to the office.
Gila County Public Health Director Michael O’Driscoll said, “when positives are found, there is an action plan in place to widen the surveillance area until no positives are being found, which gives a better assurance that the virus has been contained.”
O’Driscoll urged people to keep pets vaccinated against rabies.
“It is important for people to take precautions, such as avoiding wildlife and other unknown animals that may have been previously exposed and could be shedding the rabies in their saliva.”
To protect yourself, your family and your pets from exposure to the rabies virus, you should follow these precautions.
• Avoid domestic animals that are acting in a strange or unusual manner.
• Instruct children to avoid approaching any non-domesticated animal regardless of its behavior.
• Advise children to tell an adult if bitten or scratched by an animal.
Any mammal can contract rabies, which is almost always fatal if untreated.
If bitten or scratched, thoroughly wash the wound with soap and running water. Gather as much information about the animal as possible. Immediately seek medical attention and report the incident to the local county health department.
Transmission of the deadly virus also can occur if saliva contacts mucous membranes of the eye or mouth.
Pets can have an unknown contact with a wild animal then potentially expose humans to rabies following an incubation period. Vaccination is very effective in reducing the risk for a pet to become infected with the virus in the event of exposure to another animal shedding the virus.
For information, contact the Gila County Animal Control Department at (928) 425-5882.