Pima County has confirmed positive cases of rabies in 20 wild animals so far in 2013, including 14 bats, five skunks, and one bobcat, according to the Pima County Health Department’s Epidemiology Program.
Rabies is a disease caused by the rabies virus. Although humans usually get rabies from direct physical contact such as a bite or scratch from a rabid animal, no human rabies cases have been reported in Arizona in more than 30 years.
It may take a few weeks, or even a few years, for people to show symptoms after being infected with rabies. However, once someone with rabies starts developing symptoms, that person usually does not survive. Early symptoms may include: headache, a high temperature, irritability and sometimes itching or pain where the contact occurred. Eventually, as the disease progresses, a patient may experience paralysis, throat spasms, convulsions, delirium and death.
The best protection against rabies is avoidance of risk. Be alert for changes in typical animal behavior. Use caution if you see nocturnal wild animals during the day or encounter animals that seem to have lost their fear of humans or appear to have paralysis of the limbs.
Rabies can occur in bats or in other wildlife, including stray cats or dogs that have been injured. As tempting as it is to help injured pets, attempting to handle the pet may cause it pain and it may bite in response.
Please remember to stay away from wildlife to include if you see a bat on the ground, do not touch it. Cover it with a box or container and immediately notify the Pima Animal Care Center at (520) 243-5900.
Citizens seeing injured pets, unusual wildlife behavior or with questions or concerns about rabies due to possible contact with bats, skunks, or other wildlife are advised to call either the Pima Animal Care Center at (520) 243-5900, Option 3 or the Health Department’s Disease Line at (520) 243-7800.