Pet, livestock owners warned to keep rabies vaccinations up to date

Freedom New Mexico

The New Mexico Department of Health is warning pet and livestock owners in Roosevelt County and the surrounding area to make sure their dogs, cats, horses and other valuable livestock get vaccinated against rabies after an unvaccinated pet dog from near Portales was attacked by an aggressive acting skunk in early July. The dog began showing signs of rabies last week and died at a veterinary hospital two days later.

The New Mexico Department of Health’s Scientific Laboratory Division in Albuquerque confirmed the dog had rabies. Nine people have been identified who will need to receive a rabies vaccination to prevent them from developing rabies. Another unvaccinated pet dog which was also bitten by the skunk will be euthanized.

“People have been needlessly exposed to a very dangerous, fatal disease because pets have not been vaccinated against rabies,” Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Catherine Torres said in a press release.

Dr. Paul Ettestad, the Department of Health’s public health veterinarian, said a skunk positive for rabies means that there are other skunks and potentially other wildlife in the area that also have rabies.

“Pet and horse owners need to protect their animals by having them up-to-date on their rabies vaccines,” Dr. Ettestad said. “This will also help to protect their children and other family members from rabies if their horse, dog or cat tangles with a rabid animal.”

Portales veterinarian Kathryn Bartlett said local residents should be sure to always get their pets vaccinated and anyone exposed to rabies should get a post-exposure rabies vaccination.

For more information about rabies, visit the Department of Health website at http://nmhealth.org/ERD/HealthData/rabies.shtml