Rabies in Arizona: Jan. 14 webinar

Last year a bobcat tested positive for rabies here in Gila County, one of 100 confirmed cases of rabies in wildlife across the state. In comparison, Santa Cruz County reported 39 rabid animals; the majority of those were skunks (33). On average our state has 30 people each year exposed to rabid animals. Rabies is excruciating and fatal if untreated; those exposed must receive a vaccine and anti-rabies serum to prevent infection.

How does exposure happen most often? Here in Arizona, bats present the most common source of rabies exposure to humans. Bats are generally not aggressive, but rabid bats can fall to the ground - where they are easily accessible to people and pets. Exposure occurs when people pick up or handle a sick or dead bat. The last documented human rabies death in Arizona was 1981, but people are exposed each year when they approach or feed wild animals - or, much less often, when they are attacked by rabid animals such as foxes, bobcats and skunks. Most rabies exposures can be avoided by simply leaving bats and other wild animals alone.

Learn more about rabies in Arizona during a free webinar on Thursday, Jan. 14, from 11 a.m. - noon, hosted by University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Gila County. Weekly Zoom webinars explore a variety of horticultural and natural resource topics relevant to the environmental conditions and residential concerns of Gila County, and are hosted each week by Cooperative Extension Agent Chris Jones. Log in at arizona.zoom.us/j/83377806479. Find convenient “click here” direct hotlinks at extension.arizona.edu/gila, where you can also view previous programs from the past six months such as “Winter Gardening” and “Payson’s Fire Adapted Community Code.” Join a growing green-thumbed audience for these informative online chats. Cooperative Extension’s website above has an array of links to programs, talks and resources. Links are also conveniently posted each week on Facebook, where you can join Chris Jones and a local network of gardeners and green-thumbed followers at facebook.com/gilaextension. Want to be added to Mr. Jones’ invite list for gardening and horticulture workshops? Call Chris at 928-402-8586 or email [email protected]

The guest speaker Jan. 14 is Dr. Jerlyn K. Sponseller, who brings a wealth of animal knowledge and experience as a private-practice veterinarian and former veterinary school instructor who now works in the veterinary pharmaceutical industry.  She has 15 years of clinical veterinary experience in Indiana, Tennessee, England and Massachusetts, including starting her own small animal hospital. Dr. Sponseller has taught numerous veterinary courses, and she is the co-author of four peer-reviewed publications. She is keenly interested in zoonotic diseases - those that affect both animals and people. She hopes to aid in zoonotic disease prevention through public health education and vaccination to enhance both animal and human health. Her talk will answer commonly-asked questions and dispel rabies myths: What is rabies? Can rabies be treated? How do animals get rabies? How do people get rabies? Who should be vaccinated? How common is rabies in Arizona?

Please login up to 10 minutes prior to the webinar at arizona.zoom.us/j/83377806479 (or find links at extension.arizona.edu/gila).

Future weekly webinars: Jan. 21 Pruning Shade Trees; Live Demonstration Online; Jan. 28 Space Mission Earth; Charles Beck, Author and Community Planner; Feb. 4: Starting Vegetable Seedlings; Rich Johnson, UA Gila County Master Gardener.


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