• Prevention and vaccinations can help stop the spread of this deadly virus
  • The virus can be transmitted from shared water sources
  • Arizona is witnessing a surge in cases

Rising Virus Infections Across Arizona: A Growing Concern

As the weather gets warmer across our state, Arizona Department of Health Services officials are sounding the alert on a growing concern.

Rabies spreading across Arizona
Infected bats can spread rabies. Never handled sick bats. // Canva

Rabies infections are on the rise. Rabies is a viral disease mostly transmitted through bites from infected animals.

Rabies spreading across Arizona
Two skunks in Cochise County were found to be carrying rabies. // Canva

According to the Cochise County Sheriff's Facebook page, two new cases were recently identified in striped skunks in Cochise County, one in Hereford and one in Benson.

READ: Watch for Rabid Foxes in This Arizona National Park

Arizona has witnessed a surge in confirmed rabies cases among wildlife. According to the Humane Society:

"Any warm-blooded mammal can carry or contract rabies, but the primary carriers in North America are raccoonsskunksbatsfoxes and coyotes. Thanks to an increase in pet vaccinations, wildlife now account for more than 90 % of all reported rabies cases."

Rabies spreading across Arizona
Get all pets and animals in your care vaccinated against rabies. // Canva

The best way to prevent the spread of rabies is to ensure all pets are vaccinated. This includes dogs, cats, and any free-roaming cats under your care, like barn cats.

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The Alarming Numbers: Rabies Cases Across Arizona

In 2023 alone, Arizona reported 46 confirmed rabies-positive animals, from Apache to Yuma counties.

READ: Arizona Veterinarians Urgent Warning: Vaccinate your dogs now!

Rabies spreading across Arizona
Never feed wild animals. They can carry rabies and pass it on to humans and domesticated animals. // Canva

Pima County had the most, with 25 reported cases, followed by Maricopa County. Wildlife and pets are not the only creatures at risk: humans can be exposed to rabies and approximately 30 people a year face this danger.

How to Prevent Rabies in Arizona

You can't always tell by looking at a wild animal if they have rabies so prevention is key:

  1. Vaccinate Pets: Stop the spread. Make sure all pets are vaccinated against rabies.
  2. Avoid Handling Wildlife: Sick or injured animals—especially bats—pose a big risk. Leave bats alone - don't pick them up or handle them.
  3. Educate Children: Teach kids to stay away from all wild animals and any pets they don't know personally.
  4. Secure Food: Don’t leave food out that might attract wildlife.
  5. If You've Been Bitten or Scratched: If you've been bitten or scratched by an unknown or wild animal, get medical attention immediately. The sooner an anti-rabies vaccine is administered with immune globulin, the better the chances of recovery.
Rabies spreading across Arizona
Coyotes and other wild mammals can spread rabies to domestic animals. // Canva

[ Sources:US Fish & Wildlife Service | Arizona Department of Health Services | The Humane Society | USDA | CDC.govCochise County Sheriff's Office ]

LOOK: 11 tick-borne illnesses and what to watch out for during your outdoor adventures

Stacker compiled a list of 11 common tick-borne diseases in the U.S. and what symptoms to watch out for, using a variety of medical and government sources. 

Gallery Credit: Martha Sandoval

LOOK: Here are the pets banned in each state

Because the regulation of exotic animals is left to states, some organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, advocate for federal, standardized legislation that would ban owning large cats, bears, primates, and large poisonous snakes as pets.

Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

Gallery Credit: Elena Kadvany

LOOK: You Can Surprisingly Own These Exotic Pets in Arizona

Sure you could own a dog or a cat, but that's too normal. If you're looking for a pet that not just anyone has, you could own one of these exotic animals.

Here are some of the exotic pets you can have in Arizona.

Gallery Credit: Tim Gray

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