Press release: Rabid skunk found in Curry County

(Las Cruces) — The New Mexico Department of Health reported today that a skunk from Curry County tested positive for rabies. The Department of Health is reminding residents that it is important to vaccinate their animals to protect them from rabies.

The skunk was from the Clovis area of Curry County and bit an unvaccinated dog before it died. There were no known human exposures, but the unvaccinated dog that was exposed to the rabid skunk will be euthanized to prevent it from developing rabies and potentially exposing people.

“This is another tragic event where a family dog will be euthanized since it was not previously vaccinated against rabies,” said Paul Ettestad, the Department of Health’s public health veterinarian. “If the dog had been vaccinated against rabies it could have received a booster dose of vaccine and been protected.”

Ettestad said even if pets only go outside occasionally they can be attacked by a rabid animal. Animals that are not vaccinated and are bitten by a rabid animal can be dangerous and expose people to rabies before they die. Rabies is a fatal disease if it is not treated before symptoms develop.

“Since pet dogs and cats that roam and hunt can come into contact with rabid animals and potentially transmit the disease to people, it is very important to make sure all dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations,” Ettestad said. “This will also help to protect children and other family members from rabies if their dog or cat tangles with a rabid animal.”

Ettestad said it is easy to prevent rabies by taking the following precautions:
• Do not handle wild animals. Feed your pets indoors and do not toss table scraps into your yard.
• Teach your children to stay away from wild animals or animals they don’t know.
• If skunks or other wild animals are lurking around your yard and acting sick or abnormal contact your local animal control department.
• Supervise your pets to prevent exposure. Obey leash laws and keep your pets restrained.
• If your pet is bitten by a wild animal or a stray domestic animal, contact your local animal control department and bring your pet to your veterinarian, even if the wound is superficial.

If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal or a pet, The Department of Health recommends the following guidelines: