FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Coconino County Health and Human Services (CCHHS) officials have confirmed several skunks found in the Greenlaw and Coconino Estates areas of Flagstaff have tested positive for rabies. One human exposure has been reported and the individual is receiving Postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment.
CCHHS and City of Flagstaff Animal Control urge individuals to use caution to protect against rabies exposure when hiking, camping or in situation where wildlife may be present. The following precautions are recommended to protect against rabies:
- Avoid wildlife, especially those exhibiting unusual wildlife behaviors which can include; showing no fear of humans, aggressive behavior, staggering and/or acting sickly, and nocturnal mammals active during daytime.
- Keep all pets current on vaccinations and obey leash laws.
- Always keep pets away from wild animals.
- Never pick up, touch, or feed wild or unfamiliar animals, even if they do not appear sick or aggressive.
- Do not pick up dead animals that do not have an obvious cause of death such as a car. If you find a dead skunk or other animal in your yard leave it and report it.
- Report any wild animals exhibiting erratic or aggressive behavior.
- Seek immediate medical attention if bitten by or when there is direct contact with a wild animal.
- Pet owners should seek medical care from a veterinarian if their pet is bitten by wildlife.
Rabies is a virus spread by the bite of an infected animal or direct contact with the saliva of an infected animal. In Arizona, bats, skunks, and foxes are the main animal sources of rabies. Rabies causes severe damage to the central nervous system and usually leads to death once symptoms appear. However, effects of the virus are preventable if proper medical treatment is obtained within the proper timeframe.
Human exposures to rabid animals are usually rare, but domestic animals, such as cats and dogs often come into contact with wild animals and are at an increased risk. Routine rabies vaccination will help protect your pet against rabies.
Unusual wildlife sightings or unusual wildlife behavior observed within the city limits should be reported to City of Flagstaff Police Department at 928-774-1414. Outside of city limits, please contact the Coconino County Health and Human Services Animal Management Program at 928-679-8756. Interactions with a bat or a bat found in the home should also be reported. To report an emergency involving wildlife, call 911.
For more information on rabies, please visit www.azhealth.gov/rabies.