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  • As temps increase, so does the risk of encounters with wildlife

    May 13, 2016 | Read More News
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    In recent weeks the Pima County Health Department has investigated eight instances where people or pets may have had contact with a rabid wildlife. In seven of these cases, the animal involved tested positive for the virus.

    bat“These situations have occurred in nearly every corner of the metro Tucson area,” said Dr. Francisco García, Health Department Director. “We aren’t seeing a major increase in the number of rabies cases but, we are finding that an increasing number these situations have occurred in very public and relatively busy places.”

    In four of these cases, health officials are asking people to contact the Health Department if they encountered a bat or skunk at the following locations during the time period identified. Anyone who had physical contact with one of these animals should call 520-724-7797:

    April 20 – A skunk in the Planet Fitness parking lot in Oro Valley, 10525 N Oracle Rd.

    May 4 – A bat at Arches on Oracle Apartment Complex, 5921 N. Oracle Rd.

    May 9 – A bat at the Lakeside Casitas and Lakeside Park, 8250 E Golf Links Rd.

    May 9 – 
    A bat found at the south entrance of Macy’s Department Store at the Tucson Mall, 4500 N Oracle Rd.

    In four other cases the the Health Department was able to contact the people involved:
    • A skunk encountered at a Mt. Lemmon camp area
    • An incident where dogs had contact with a rabid skunk at private home in Three Points
    • A similar dog encounter with a  separate rabid skunk at private home in the Vail area
    • A bat that could not be tested was encountered by children on a central Tucson school playground

      In southern Arizona, bats and skunks are the wild animals in which rabies virus is most often found. While these animals are an important part of our desert surroundings and very interesting animals – they, along with other wildlife, can carry disease or may injure people or pets when they are sick or feel threatened. It is extremely important to talk with children about avoiding wildlife, even if they find them near home or at school.

      “We certainly aren’t encouraging people to harm wildlife or avoid outdoor activities,” continues García. “We simply want folks to understand that seeing a bat or skunk near an unusual place like your favorite store or your child’s school can pose a very real risk of coming into contact with rabies.”

      Humans and pets can get rabies from direct physical contact such as a bite or scratch from an infected animal. The virus is transmitted through the saliva of the infected animal. It may take weeks to years for people to show symptoms after being infected. However, once someone starts developing symptoms, that person usually does not survive.

      Officials recommend taking the following steps to help people reduce the risk of rabies exposure for themselves, their children and their pets:

      • Do not approach wild animals. Wild animals with rabies may seem unafraid of people. It's not normal for a wild animal to be friendly with people, so stay away from any animal that seems unafraid.
      • Talk to your children about avoiding unknown or wild animals. Children should tell an adult right away and the adult should call Pima Animal Care Center at (520) 724-5900.
      • Protect your pets. If your cat or dog is not current on their rabies vaccinations, be sure to vaccinate them as soon as possible.
      • If you see a bat or any other wildlife acting oddly or on the ground, do not touch it. Stay away and immediately call the Pima Animal Care Center at (520) 724-5900.
      • If you have physical contact with an unknown animal, especially a wild animal, call the Health Department help line at 520-724-7797.

      The quickest way to receive updates about rabies cases in our community is to follow the Health Department on Facebookand Twitter.

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