Rabies found in fox by Magdalena

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Free rabies clinics on April 20 and May 11

Socorro
Rabies has made an appearance in the county this spring, carried by a fox that bit a dog near Magdalena, the Socorro County Sheriff’s Department reported.

Undersheriff Les Torres said the dog was euthanized because it hadn’t received a rabies vaccination. He noted the dog belonged to a person who has been previously ticketed for dogs roaming at large and no proof of rabies vaccination.

A news release issued March 28 by the New Mexico Department of Health states the attack happened about a mile south of Magdalena on March 23. Tissue samples from the fox submitted to the department’s Scientific Laboratory Division tested positive for rabies. Prior to this, the last confirmed animal rabies cases in Socorro County were a calf and a bat, both in 2009.

The young dog was attacked by the fox at a home, according to the DOH release. No people, other pets or livestock are known to have been bitten by the rabid fox.

“It’s tragic this pet had not been vaccinated against rabies and had to be euthanized so that children and other family members would not be put at unnecessary risk and exposure to a very dangerous and fatal disease,” Dr. Paul Ettestad, DOH public health veterinarian, said in the news release. “There is the potential for other foxes in the area to be spreading rabies, so it becomes very important that all dogs and cats get a rabies vaccination as soon as possible.”

The city of Socorro sponsors a free rabies clinic for dogs and cats April 20, Terry Tadano, director of the Socorro Chamber of Commerce, said. The clinic will be held 8-11 a.m. on the plaza, where the Save Our Bosque Task Force is also having a benefit brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. featuring live music and breakfast burritos.
Tadano said the city pays for the rabies vaccinations, but the veterinarians donate their time.

“Both local veterinarians are very concerned about rabies,” Tadano said.
If pet owners want to inoculate against parvo, distemper or other diseases in addition to rabies, Tadano said they need only pay the difference. He said the city will also provide free dog licenses to pet owners who have their dogs vaccinated for rabies.

Animal Haven Veterinary Clinic gives shots on the plaza April 20, Tadano said, and another free rabies clinic is scheduled for May 11 with the Ark of Socorro administering vaccinations. Tadano said there are just two free rabies clinics planned for this year, although four were held last year.

Tadano credited city Clerk Pat Salome with the idea for the free rabies clinics.
Salome said this is the second year the city has sponsored the clinics, which they decided to do for public health and safety reasons. He noted rabies is a public health issue that can affect everyone, not just pet owners.

“We’ve got to get better at it as a community,” Salome said. “The idea (behind the free clinics) is to assist the public with that.”

Salome said in addition to inoculating a lot of pets against rabies, the free clinics also help people get acquainted with their local veterinarians and hopefully establish a relationship that will optimize their pets’ health.

“We’re trying to help people,” Salome said, “not just tell them what they have to do, but hopefully lead by example.”

The DOH also advises people to have their horses and other valuable livestock vaccinated; keep pets on a leash at all times; stay away from wild or unfamiliar animals; and report any sick or dead wild animal, as well as any abnormal behavior in a wild animal, to local animal control.

If a person is bitten or scratched by a wild animal or strange pet, the DOH recommends the person:

• Wash all wounds and contact areas thoroughly with soap and water.
• Contact a physician immediately for evaluation. The DOH is available to physicians for consultation about rabies at (505) 827-0006.
• Call the local animal control department to report the incident; provide them with an accurate description of the animal.
• Try to keep the animal confined, but don’t risk further injury if the animal is dangerous.
• Keep children away from all animals involved in the incident.