The Department of Health in Santa Fe confirmed a case of rabies in Roswell, around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Animal Control received a call-out around 4 p.m., Saturday, reporting an aggressive skunk located in the 400 block of East Mathews Street. “The skunk ran at the guy and chased him into his home,” supervisor Joseph Pacheco said.
Animal Control Officer Andrew Gross answered the call and was immediately alerted to certain symptoms. “Besides the fact that the animal was running down the middle of the street in broad daylight, he looked like he had mange. He had respiratory symptoms.”
Pacheco confirmed, “The eyes were runny, and he had nasal discharge.”
The caller had a pellet gun and shot at the animal, but, Pacheco said, “Animal Control, along with the Roswell Police Department, are asking that nobody discharge a weapon within city limits. He could have gotten in trouble for discharging a gun, even a pellet gun. This guy was just lucky he killed the animal.”
He said, “Instead you should get inside, keep a visual on it and call Animal Control.”
Pacheco expressed concern over children and their pets. “Tell your children to keep away from wildlife no matter how friendly they seem.”
Officers of Animal Control canvassed the neighborhood near the 400 block of East Matthews, Wednesday afternoon, to see if any animals had come into contact with the skunk. Neighbors were also being advised to get their animals vaccinated. One person reported a Doberman puppy who had been seen barking at the skunk through a chainlink fence. The owner was advised to take the animal to a vet.
Pacheco felt the warning of the experience was to make sure pets are vaccinated. He did not want people to panic. Instances of rabies in Chaves County are extremely rare.
According to Department of Health records, there have been only 12 confirmed cases of rabies in Chaves County since 1984 — two bats and 10 skunks; no dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes nor livestock.
Since 1966, Chaves County has had one confirmed case of rabies in a cat; one dog; six bats, six “other,” which includes livestock, foxes, bobcats; and 52 skunks.
Megin Nichols, DVM with New Mexico’s Department of Health in Santa Fe, listed the symptoms.
“Seeing an nocturnal (night-time) animal out during the day is one of the symptoms of rabies in wildlife. They will seem sick. They may be overly agressive or overly friendly. If a wild animal approaches you, stay calm, move away and call Animal Control immediately,” she advised.
She recommends that citizens of Roswell stay calm.” If people want to protect themselves, people should animal-proof their yards to ensure they do not attract wildlife. Don’t leave pet food out. Keep garbage covered (and lids secured). Don’t allow debris to accumulate and cover barrels used to collect rainwater.”
The most important thing, she said, is to make sure your animals have their rabies shots up to date. Nichols also said people in the county should have livestock vaccinated. She cited the confirmed case of a horse with rabies found in Artesia.
The Department of Health has issued the following guidelines:
•Stay away from wild or unfamiliar animals. Teach this important message to your children and keep a close eye on your kids at all times.
•If you see a sick or dead wild animal, or a wild animal acting abnormally, report it to Animal Control. Rabid animals show no fear of people.
•Keep pets on a leash at all times. Pets should be up-to-date on rabies vaccinations and wearing current license tags on their collars. If your cat or dog has been bitten or scratched, call your pet’s veterinarian, even if the wound is minor.
•If bitten or scratched by a wild animal or a pet, wash all wounds and contact areas thoroughly with soap and water.
Call a physician for evaluation. The Department of Health is available to physicians for consultation about rabies 24/7 at 505-827-0006.