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Increase in Rabies infected animals reported in Maricopa County

Updated: May 4, 2021

Update to incidents of Rabies cases in Maricopa County

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health reports that more cases of rabies have been diagnosed in animals in our county this year (2017) than last, even though 2016 one of the worst in recent history. Three bats have tested positive for rabies in the past few weeks (as of Sept. 2017). Craig Levy, an epizoologist for Maricopa County states,

“The best thing for a resident to do is to make sure that their pets are vaccinated against rabies and to be sure not to handle animals such as bats that could be carrying the virus.”

The 2017 year-to-date total for positive cases this year are five bats, one bobcat, and one fox. Skunks can also be an important carrier of rabies and caution should be exercised around them as well. “Our concern is that the worst months may still be ahead.: Levy added.

Bats tend to migrate from south to north in the late summer and early fall months. The number of bat-related exposures increases as bats may roost in areas where pets and people live. It is very important to leave these animals alone.

A coyote in Sunflower recently (Fall, 2017) tested positive for rabies. Four teenagers were potentially exposed and started post-exposure prophylaxis. The variant typing of the coyote will be done at some time in the future, but the odds are very high that this case of wildlife rabies will be a gray fox variant. This could mean that rabies is circulating among foxes in the Sunflower area. Health officials warn that the recreational areas frequented by so many of the residents of the East Valley may be the home to some wildlife infected with rabies. Please keep your dogs and cats current on their rabies vaccinations. Not only is this a wise measure to eliminate risk, but it is the case of dogs, it’s the law. The rabies vaccine is initially given when dogs (and cats) are over 12 weeks of age. This vaccine is boosted one year later. After the second rabies vaccine, the boosters are done every 3 years. There is no simpler step you can take to prevent a health catastrophe than keeping your pets current on their rabies vaccines. If you are not sure of your pet’s vaccine status, please call our office.


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