Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts beware – there’s an increase in rabid skunks in Pima and Santa Cruz Counties, according to the Arizona Departments of Health Services, Agriculture and Game and Fish.
Last year, officials found 17 rabid skunks total throughout these areas. But so far this year, they’ve already identified 13 skunks with rabies, officials say.
DHS advises people to protect themselves by avoiding contact with wild or stray animals, getting pets vaccinated against rabies, and consulting medical professionals if a pet or person is bitten by a wild animal.
Rabies is normally found in wild animals like skunks and bats, but the greatest danger to people is if their pets or livestock become infected, according to DHS.
The first sign of rabies is strange behavior, since the virus attacks the nervous system.
DHS says hunters should wear gloves and eyewear when field dressing game to prevent spreading diseases. Anyone exposed to rabid animals should begin taking preventative medication.
If anyone sees wild animals acting strange or finds a large number of dead skunks or foxes is encouraged to reach out to local animal control or Game and Fish at 623-236-7201.