Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Domestic animals account for less than 10% of the reported rabies cases, with cats, cattle, and dogs most often reported rabid.
Rabies virus infects the central nervous system, causing encephalopathy and ultimately death. Early symptoms of rabies in humans are nonspecific, consisting of fever, headache, and general malaise. As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of symptoms.
There have been 11 confirmed rabid animals in New Mexico in 2013: three skunks and a bat from Eddy County, a bat from Santa Fe County, four bats from Bernalillo County, a dog from Valencia County, and a fox from Socorro County. See press releases of 11/18/2013 and 03/28/2013 for more information.
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Environmental Health Epidemiology
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Infectious Disease Epidemiology
An infectious disease epidemiologist is available 24/7/365 at (505) 827-0006 to answer questions and accept notifiable condition reports.