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What You Should Know About Rabies

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Anastasia Visona
  • 27th Special Operations Medical Group

When you hear rabies, what is the first thing that comes to mind?  A dog or cat foaming at the mouth resembling a zombie?  

Rabies, as defined by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a virus that causes an infection upon the central nervous system which attacks the brain and could lead to death.  The signs and symptoms of rabies include fever, headache, general weakness, and discomfort. 

Rabies can progress to more severe symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, increase in saliva, difficulty swallowing, and fear of water.

The first thing to know about rabies is that it is a 100% preventable viral disease.  The only way to contract Rabies is when it is transmitted through the bite/scratch of a rabid animal.  In rare cases, it may also be transmitted through the saliva of a rabid animal through direct contact with your eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.

The CDC states that the majority of rabies cases reported every year are from raccoon, skunks, bats, and foxes.  So far, there have been 11 cases of animal rabies cases reported in New Mexico this year.  The current count in Curry County is two skunks and one fox.  Prevention measures that can be taken are as followed:

  • Stay away from wild or other unfamiliar animals. 
  • Don’t touch wild animals (alive or dead). Share this important message with your children.
  • Be a good steward to your pet.  Up-to-date rabies vaccinations, current license tags and identification for your pet could save his or her life.
  • Healthy puppies and kittens can receive their first rabies vaccination at 12 weeks of age to ensure they are protected early in life.
  • Keep pets on a leash at all times.  If your cat or dog has been bitten or scratched, call your pet’s veterinarian (even if the wound is superficial).
  • Avoid feeding wild animals to prevent animal bites and to prevent familiarity with human foods.  Healthy wild animals that lose their fear of humans can be mistaken as being sick and destroyed unnecessarily.
  • If you or a loved-one are bitten by an animal, or come into contact with an animal’s saliva, wash the exposed site immediately with soap and water for 10-15 minutes.

Be sure to report the bite to the Public Health office (784-4926) and report to the nearest emergency room for medical care as soon as possible. 

  • If you see a sick or dead wild animal, or any wild animal acting abnormally on base. Report it to CE Pest Management at 575-784-2001.

Make sure to report any wild or unfamiliar/feral animals on base, protect yourself, pets and children, and practice good situational awareness.  If you have any questions or concerns please contact the Public Health office at (575) 784-4926.

For additional information about mosquitoes and the proper use of insect repellent, check out the Center for Disease Control site or the New Mexico State Department of Health site: