Rabid skunk reported in Curry County

CNJ staff writer: Sharna Johnson

The first rabies report in Curry County for the year was reported today by the New Mexico Department of Health.

A rabid skunk bit an unvaccinated dog in the Clovis area, said Chris Minnick with the Department of Health.

The remains of the skunk were submitted for testing and the results were known about two days ago, Minnick said.

The dog is expected to be euthanized to prevent it from developing rabies and potentially exposing other animals and people, a press release said.

Last year, there were two rabid skunks identified in Curry County and 28 animal rabies cases reported in the state, according to DoH data.

“It is out there in the wildlife population,” Minnick said, emphasizing the incident is a reminder to vaccinate pets against rabies and not to handle wild animals.

“This is another tragic event where a family dog will be euthanized since it was not previously vaccinated against rabies,” said Paul Ettestad, the DoH’s public health veterinarian. “If the dog had been vaccinated against rabies it could have received a booster dose of vaccine and been protected.”

Rabies is fatal if not treated before symptoms develop.

“Since pet dogs and cats that roam and hunt can come into contact with rabid animals and potentially transmit the disease to people, it is very important to make sure all dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations,” Ettestad said. “This will also help to protect children and other family members from rabies if their dog or cat tangles with a rabid animal.”

Minnick said animals with rabies often behave erratically. If an animal that is characteristically elusive, for example a skunk or a bat, suddenly appears aggressive or unafraid, that is a warning sign.