With the recent euthanization of a rabid stray fox in El Paso, Texas, the WSMR Environmental Division is stressing the importance of having WSMR residents vaccinate their pets.
Pet vaccinations are required by WSMR Regulation 215-1 and New Mexico State Law.
“It’s very important to vaccinate pets, in fact it’s required. The case in El Paso was closer to home than usual,” said Patricia Cutler, WSMR Garrison Wildlife Biologist.
The rabid fox that was found in neighboring El Paso, Texas, had bitten a family dog. Luckily the dog was vaccinated and is currently in good health. Though the rabies disease is rare, on average there are two or three human deaths each year due to rabies. This can be easily prevented by taking precautionary measures. WSMR has never encountered rabies on Post or up range.
Cutler said it is possible for coyotes, or bobcats to become infected by the disease by being bitten, the disease is mostly carried by bats and foxes. Rodents do not usually carry the disease. It can be transmitted from animal to human if humans are bitten by the infected animal and can be deadly if untreated before showing symptoms.
People start to show signs of the disease 1 to 3 months or longer after being bitten by an animal carrying the rabies virus. The early signs of rabies can be fever or headache, but this changes quickly to central nervous system signs, such as confusion, sleepiness or agitation. Rabies can affect the nervous system and cause the brain to swell.
“If you’re bitten and you don’t get treated, once you show signs you’re not likely to survive,” Cutler said.
Cutler said a good way to prevent your pet from having an encounter with a stray animal, is to not let your pets loose without a leash, even in your own backyard.
“It’s generally a good idea to keep your distance from any stray animals,” Cutler said.
The Center for Disease Control calls the rabies infection an “entirely preventable” disease. According to the CDC, the tools to prevent the disease are readily available. Education and awareness, when combined with vaccination of domestic animals, has proven to eliminate dog rabies and human exposures. Attacking the rabies disease through pet rabies control is much more cost effective than the human vaccine.
Please contact DPW Environmental Division at 678-2225 for any concerns with stray animals, wildlife or questions about rabies.
To report a sick animal roaming post, residents and personnel working on Post can report them to DES Dispatch 678-1234 or the number above.