Hualapai Mountain visitors warned to enjoy wildlife from a distance
Two foxes in area have tested positive for rabies in past 10 days
KINGMAN — The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds residents and outdoor recreationists in the Hualapai Mountains area to protect themselves and their pets by keeping a safe distance from wildlife, especially animals that may be behaving abnormally, such as those that appear overly aggressive and/or lacking a fear of humans.
Two foxes in the area have tested positive for rabies in the past 10 days. In the first incident, a fox exhibiting aggressive behavior was dispatched by wildlife officers and sent to the state lab for testing. In the second incident, a man reported being bitten by a fox. Wildlife officers investigated and caught a fox in the nearby area, euthanized it, and sent it to the lab for testing, where it also tested positive.
Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted by the bite of or contact with saliva of an infected animal. The rabies virus causes severe damage to the central nervous system and usually leads to death once symptoms appear. Human exposures to rabid animals are usually rare (and can be treated through prompt administration of anti-rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin), but domestic animals, such as cats and dogs, often come into contact with wild animals and are at an increased risk.
“In Arizona, bats, skunks, and foxes are the main animal sources of rabies,” said Anne Justice-Allen, D.V.M., a veterinarian and wildlife health specialist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The first sign of rabies is usually a change in the animal’s behavior. Animals may act more aggressive or more tame than usual, be out during the day, stagger, tremble, or seem weak. Rabid animals may appear agitated and excited or paralyzed and frightened. Sometimes, rabid animals do not show any signs of illness before death from rabies.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services and Arizona Game and Fish Department offer these tips on precautions people can take to avoid exposure to rabies:
- Keep people and pets away from wild animals.
- Never leave pet food in your yard because it will attract wild animals.
- Do not pick up, touch, or feed wild or unfamiliar animals, especially sick or wounded ones.
- If you have been bitten or scratched, or had contact with an animal, wash the wound or area well with soap and water, and report it immediately to animal control or health officials.
- Do not “rescue” abandoned young wild animals.
- Vaccinate all dogs and cats against rabies.
- Take precautions when camping, hunting or fishing. Avoid sleeping on the open ground without the protection of a closed tent or camper.
- Keep pets on a leash or in a fenced yard.
- Wear impermeable gloves when skinning carcasses.
- Do not disturb roosting bats.
- If you find a bat on the ground, don’t touch it. Place a box over the bat to contain it. Try to preserve the bat so it is intact for testing at a laboratory. Report the bat and its location to animal control or health officials.
- Teach children not to handle or touch sick or injured animals including bats.
- Report all animal bites to animal control or health officials.
Any wild animal exhibiting unusual, erratic, or aggressive behavior should be reported to local animal control officials or the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 602-942-3000. If you or your pet is bitten or has contact with a wild animal, seek immediate medical or veterinary attention and contact your county public health department.
For more information on rabies, visit the Arizona Department Health Services website at www.azhealth.gov/rabies.