The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announced Tuesday that a rabid fox from Lincoln County that bit a woman on April 20 had a strain of rabies that has never before been identified. The genetic sequencing of the virus was done in the Rabies Laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. The woman received a series of rabies vaccinations that has prevented her from developing rabies, which is usually fatal.
The “Fox Involved in Attack Tests Positive for Rabies” press release went out after initial testing on the fox at the NMDOH’s rabies laboratory was positive.
“We are working with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) and the CDCto increase surveillance in Lincoln County,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “We’ll be collecting dead foxes and bats found on the ground in Lincoln County and testing them for rabies. This new strain is related to other rabies strains found in bats.”
Children should be reminded that they should never touch a bat or other wild animal and that they should always report any contact with bats to their parents immediately. Rabies is fatal in humans but if you have been exposed to a rabid animal, it can be prevented with immediate treatment.
The following guidelines can help protect you and your family from rabies:
- Stay away from wild or unfamiliar animals. Do not attempt to feed, approach, or touch wild animals (alive or dead). Teach this important message to your children and keep a close eye on your kids at all times.
- If you see a sick or dead wild animal, or a wild animal acting abnormally, report it to your local animal control authorities. Rabid animals may show no fear of people and may even seem friendly or become aggressive.
- Keep pets on a leash at all times. Pets should be up to date on rabies vaccinations and wearing current license tags on their collar. If your cat or dog has been bitten or scratched, call your pet’s veterinarian, even if the wound is minor.
If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal or a pet, the Department of Health recommends the following guidelines:
- Wash all wounds and contact areas thoroughly with soap and water.
- Contact a healthcare provider immediately for evaluation. The Department of Health is available to providers for consultation about rabies 24/7 at 505-827-0006.
- Call the local animal control department to report the incident and provide the department 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.