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New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, APRIL 16, 2008:
DEAD FOX FOUND IN SIERRA COUNTY TESTS POSITIVE FOR RABIES
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES -- A dead fox found in the Beaverhead area of the Gila National Forest about 50 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences has tested positive for rabies, prompting the Department of Game and Fish to re-emphasize the urgency for area residents to vaccinate their pets and livestock against the spreading disease.
The fox found April 9 was the first confirmed rabid fox in Sierra County and the sixth in southwestern New Mexico this year. The disease was first confirmed in southwestern New Mexico in 2007, when nine foxes and one bobcat tested positive for rabies in Catron County. Since then, it has spread to Grant and Sierra counties. The most recent rabid fox was found at the far western edge of Sierra County near the top of a drainage to the Gila River. To date, no rabid animals have been reported east of the Continental Divide.
Fox rabies has been a problem for several decades in Arizona and now has spread into western New Mexico. Rabies is a deadly viral disease that affects al mammals and can be prevented but not cured. Kerry Mower, wildlife health specialist with the Department of Game and Fish, said rabies in foxes probably will continue to be a problem in New Mexico.
"I expect the disease will run its course and eventually wind down in the coming years, and then we will see the disease cycle up and down with the fox population," Mower said. The current fox population in southwestern New Mexico appears to be high, he said, adding that cases of canine distemper also appear to be increasing in the area.
The Department of Game and Fish collects protected animals that are sick or dead and has them tested for rabies if the animals have been exposed to humans or are considered a potential health risk to humans.
Here are some guidelines to help protect yourself and your family from rabies: