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Arizona Game and Fish issues warning after dog with rabies bites child

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

ARIZONA, USA — The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds people to admire wildlife from a distance.

The reminder comes after a recent incident in which a dog infected with rabies bit a child in Whiteriver.

“The weather is warming up and people are outside,” said Dr. Anne Justice-Allen, AZGFD wildlife veterinarian. “At this time of year, we often see an uptick in the number of wildlife submitted for rabies testing as a result of contact with people or their pets.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services offers some precautions to avoid exposure to rabies:

  • Keep people and pets away from wild animals.
  • Do not pick up, touch, or feed wild or unfamiliar animals, especially sick or wounded ones.
  • Do not "rescue" young wild animals you believe to be abandoned. In most cases they are not abandoned. Leave wildlife alone.
  • Never leave pet food in your yard because it will attract wild animals.
  • Vaccinate all dogs and cats against rabies.
  • Keep pets on a leash or in a fenced yard.
  • If you have been bitten or scratched, wash the wound or area well with soap and water, and report it immediately to animal control or health officials.
  • Take precautions when camping, hunting or fishing. Avoid sleeping on the open ground without the protection of a closed tent or camper.
  • 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.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system and is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. 

The prompt administration of anti-rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin can prevent rabies.

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

According to the AZDHS website, approximately 30 people in Arizona are exposed to rabid animals annually. Exposed people must receive vaccine and anti-rabies serum treatment to prevent infection.

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