Friday, February 20, 2009

New Mexico: Second rabid bobcat found

By Holly Wise Sun-News Bureau Chief
Posted: 02/20/2009 01:00:00 AM MST

SILVER CITY — A second bobcat in the region has tested positive for rabies, the New Mexico Department of Health reported Thursday afternoon.

The bobcat was discovered dead just east of Lake Roberts on Feb. 11 and was confirmed rabies positive Thursday.

A sample of the bobcat was sent to the Center for Disease Control to determine if the strain of rabies is viral and if "it can be passed from bobcat to bobcat," said Chris Minnick, New Mexico Department of Health public information officer.

The bobcat was the second rabid bobcat found within five days. The first bobcat attacked an unvaccinated dog in Mimbres on Feb. 6 and was confirmed rabies positive on Feb. 11. The bobcat was shot by the landowner.

"It's unusual to see these kinds of cases," said Minnick.

According to state Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Paul Ettestad, the bobcats were most likely infected by rabid foxes.

New Mexico Game and Fish Wildlife Conservation Officer John Armijo said he and his staff have held discussions on the prevention of rabies in foxes and bobcats, but have not yet come to any conclusions.

"We haven't come up with anything affirmative yet," he said.

Armijo said he wasn't alarmed by the two rabid bobcats.

"Obviously, rabies has been around for awhile," he said. "It's a lot more prevalent right now" due to the large number of animals.

Two foxes in Grant County have tested positive for rabies in 2009. Last year there were 28 cases of rabies in New Mexico, including 18 foxes and one dog in the southwestern area of New Mexico. There were 14 foxes and one dog with rabies in Grant County, two foxes in Catron County and one fox in Sierra and Hidalgo counties, according to the Department of Health.

Rabid foxes have been a problem for decades in Arizona, but were first detected in New Mexico in the Glenwood area of Catron County in 2007.

"Grant County residents need to be vigilant in their efforts to prevent rabies from affecting their families and their pets." Ettestad said in a prepared statement. "Rabies is a fatal disease that can be prevented with vaccination, but not cured once it has been diagnosed."

If anyone sees a suspicious looking or dead animal, they are encouraged to call Armijo at (575) 534-4023 or the Santa Fe central dispatch at (505) 827-9376.

Holly Wise can be reached at (575) 538-5893


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