During this past year a bobcat tested positive for rabies in Gila County – one of 100 confirmed rabies cases in wildlife across the state. In comparison, Santa Cruz County had 39 cases, and the majority of those were skunks (33). On average our state has 30 people each year exposed to rabid animals; those who are exposed must receive vaccine and anti-rabies serum treatment to prevent infection.

How does exposure happen most often? Here in Arizona, bats present the most common source of rabies exposures to humans. Bats are generally not aggressive, but rabid bats can fall to the ground - where they are easily accessible to people and pets; exposure occurs when people pickup or handle a sick or dead bat. The last documented human rabies death in Arizona was 1981, but people are exposed each year – when people approach or feed wild animals; less often, when attacked by rabid animals such as foxes, bobcats, and skunks. Most rabies exposures can be avoided by simply leaving bats and other wild animals alone.

Learn more about Rabies in Arizona during a free webinar from 11 a.m. to –noon, Thursday Jan. 14, hosted by University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Gila County.

Weekly Zoom webinars explore a variety of horticultural and natural resource topics relevant to the environmental conditions and residential concerns of Gila County, and hosted each week by Cooperative Extension Agent Chris Jones. Login at arizona.zoom.us/j/83377806479. Find convenient ‘click here’ direct hotlinks at extension.arizona.edu/gila, where you can also view previous programs from the past six months such as Winter Gardening and Payson’s Fire Adapted Community Code. Join a growing green-thumbed audience for these informative online chats. Cooperative Extension’s website above has an array of links to programs, talks and resources for Rim Country gardeners. Links are also conveniently posted each week on Facebook, where you can join Chris Jones and a local network of gardeners and green-thumbed followers at facebook.com/gilaextension. Want to be added to Jones’ invite list call 928- 402-8586 or emailckjones@email.arizona.edu

Guest speaker Dr. Jerlyn K. Sponseller brings a wealth of animal knowledge and experience as a private-practice veterinarian and a former veterinary school instructor who now works in the veterinary pharmaceutical industry. She has 15 years of clinical veterinary experience in Indiana, Tennessee, England, and Massachusetts, including starting her own small animal hospital. Dr. Sponseller has taught numerous veterinary courses, and she is the co-author of four peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Sponseller is keenly interested in zoonotic diseases, those that affect both animals and people. She hopes to aid in zoonotic disease prevention through public health education and vaccination to enhance both animal and human health. Her talk will answer commonly-asked questions and dispel rabies myths (What is rabies? Can rabies be treated? How do animals get rabies? How do people get rabies? Who should be vaccinated? How common is rabies in Arizona?)

Please login up to 10 minutes prior to the webinar at arizona.zoom.us/j/83377806479 (or find links at extension.arizona.edu/gila)

Upcoming webinars

Jan. 21 - Pruning Shade Trees; Live Demonstration Online

Jan. 28 - Space Mission Earth; Charles Beck, author, community planner

Feb. 4 - Starting Vegetable Seedlings; Rich Johnson, UA Gila County Master Gardener

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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