The Arizona Department of Health Services has placed Santa Cruz County, Arizona under a rabies quarantine due to an increase in wild animal cases. From November 2013 to March 2014, there have been 28 cases, 4 in bats and 24 skunks. All dogs and cats who live in Santa Cruz County must be vaccinated for rabies. The Arizona Department of Health recommends avoiding contact with wild animals, especially ones that are acting abnormally, during the quarantine.
Here are some other suggestions for keeping your family safe:
1) Do not feed wildlife. This activity puts the humans as well as the animals at risk. Wild animals do best on their natural diets anyway.
2) Keep pet food in a secure location so as not to attract wildlife. I was visiting a ranch in Colorado when I surprised a skunk who was eating the dog’s leftovers. Thankfully, the skunk took off instead of spraying or biting me.
3) Keep pets under control at all times. That means a leash for dogs and a carrier for cats when away from home.
4) Vaccinate your pets for rabies. This is a federal requirement.
5) Secure garbage and compost bins to prevent entry of rodents and/or skunks.
6) Avoid animals that are acting abnormally. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system leading to salivation, aggression and a drunken gait in carnivores and omnivores. Herbivores get the ‘dumb’ form characterized by salivation, dropping food when trying to eat, extreme lethargy and head pressing.
More information may be found at the Center for Disease Control. Here is the link
-Rabies Quarantine Declared for Santa Cruz County, Arizona Veterinary News, Arizona Veterinary Medical Association, April 2014.