Three possible cases of rabid animals near Tucson prompt warning - Tucson News Now


Three possible cases of rabid animals near Tucson prompt warning

(Source: Pixabay) (Source: Pixabay)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is warning people in the Tucson area to be cautious if they encounter wildlife that appears ill. This warning comes in the wake of three reports of encounters with potentially rabid animals last week.

According to an AGFD news release, two foxes and a skunk were reported at homes in the area, specifically on the west side and Saddlebrooke.

In the first incident, a woman was bitten by a skunk in her Saddlebrooke garage on March 26. The skunk escaped, and the woman was treated for rabies at Oro Valley Hospital.

A fox that was discovered in a Picture Rocks backyard pool area on March 28 was euthanized and is being tested for rabies. This fox was displaying signs of apparent illness.

Finally, an ill fox that ultimately died was found on a front porch of a home near Sweetwater Drive on March 30. It also is being tested for rabies.

“The spot is right there, underneath that swing," John Nametz said.

John Nametz lives off Sweetwater on the north-west side, and was surprised to find a sick, young fox lying on his front porch. 

“It was breathing pretty slowly and I knew something was wrong," Nametz said. 

Nametz called authorities who took the fox in for rabies testing. Mark Hart with the Arizona Game and Fish Department said the three recent reports of potentially rabid foxes and skunk, are likely linked to a 2016 outbreak. 

"There has been a Rabies outbreak in Southeastern Arizona, since last year when there were 137 cases," Hart said.

While Hart said it’s not clear what caused the animals to become rabid, the outbreaks happen roughly every five years. He said if humans are bit by an infected creature, it could be deadly, unless they get medical treatment right away. 

Wildlife that is behaving abnormally or appears to be ill should not be approached. If you suspect the animal might be rabid, call the Game and Fish Department at 623-236-7201 or the Pima County Health Department at 520-724-7797.

Rabid animals may appear disoriented or intoxicated, salivate heavily or appear thirsty.

Game and Fish Regional Supervisor Raul Vega said dead animals need to be avoided, too.

"Avoid touching any dead wildlife that you may find, and keep your pets away from them as well," Vega said in the release.

Pets such as dogs and cats and livestock such as horses should be regularly vaccinated for rabies.

There have been nine confirmed cases of rabies this year in Pima County. The infected animals included skunks, foxes, bats and bobcats. Cochise County has seen seven cases and Santa Cruz County has had five.

If you come into contact or are bitten by a rabid animal, seek treatment right away.

Here are the signs that an animal may be sick: 

  • The animal appears disoriented 
  • May look dizzy or confused 
  • Something is innately "off" with its behavior 
  • May be seeking refuge in closed areas (like a garage) 
  • Sick animals tend to hide to avoid being attacked by predators 

Information about rabies prevention can be found HERE.

More rabies data from the state Department of Health Services can be found at the links below:

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