Arizona is on track for another record-breaking year for rabid animals. After last year's astounding 176 laboratory-confirmed rabies cases, 47 animals have tested positive for rabies this year. Most of the animals came from the desert southeast area of the state and in the recreation areas near Flagstaff and Sedona.
"With this great weather, people need to be careful when they are out camping and hiking," said Elisabeth Lawaczeck, Department of Health Services Veterinarian. "People shouldn't miss the opportunity to get outside and exercise, but they need to be smart about the wildlife, especially around their children and pets."
So far in 2009, 29 skunks, 17 foxes, and 1 bobcat have tested positive for rabies. Those animals exposed 5 people and 29 domestic animals. The best protection against rabies is to make sure pets vaccinations are up to date and they are kept in a fenced-in yard and on a leash or closely supervised when away from home.
People who see foxes, skunks, coyotes, or bobcats acting strangely should report it to local animal control or wildlife officials. Odd behavior could be described as wild animals losing their fear of people, animals approaching people on hiking paths or attacking another animal without provocation.
Historically, the greatest number of rabid animals in Arizona are bats. Last year, rabid bats comprised 89 of the 176 cases, most of which were found between April and October.