CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) - A deadly disease is spreading like wildfire across one part of the state.
At least 32 pet dogs had to be euthanized because they were exposed to rabies in Eddy County. Twelve people also had to be treated after they were exposed.
It's a shot that's over in seconds, and local vets in Eddy County have recently been administering them by the hundreds. This, after a recent rabies outbreak in the County.
At Desert Willow Veterinary Services in Carlsbad it's $10 to vaccinate a horse for rabies.
"A horse to me is no different than a dog or a cat or sometimes even my kids," said horse owner Raynell Rogers. "It's a cheap investment for a big investment you have on an animal."
The Department of Health reports at least 32 dogs as well as a cat and even sheep have been put down since December because of rabies exposure.
During that same period 22 skunks, a fox and a dog tested positive for the disease.
"The drought has caused a lot of wildlife to come in to find sources of water, so they're coming in closer to town, closer to watering areas for livestock," explained Carlsbad veterinarian Dr. Samantha Uhrig.
None of dogs that were euthanized had been vaccinated for rabies.
Carlsbad Animal Control Supervisor Tina Dorado has helped trap some of the rabid wild animals and also had to help euthanize some pet dogs.
"It's extremely hard because they love their animals, and I apologize tremendously to these families," Dorado said. "Ultimately they all tell me the same thing: 'It's our fault because we didn't get our animals vaccinated.'"
Animal control has gone to door-to-door handing out flyers in areas where rabid animals have been found. Local veterinarians like Uhrig have helped out with affordable vaccination clinics the past few months.
Uhrig said they've been working with the community to help spread the word that rabies is still a problem, and since December she's seen a lot more people bring in their pets for vaccinations.
"We vaccinate dogs, cats, horses, almost every day now," Uhrig said.
Department of Health officials said it can take up to three months for someone to show signs of rabies, and by that time it's too late.
Symptoms for animals include change in behavior, light sensitivity, weakness or aggressiveness. For humans, symptoms are similar to flu symptoms, general weakness, discomfort and possible prickly sensations.
In one case two pet dogs and their puppies had to be put down due to rabies exposure. The family that owned them has children, and all of them had to get a series of rabies post -xposure prophylaxis shots early on so they would not contract the disease.
The Center for Disease Control reports worldwide, 55,000 people die every year from rabies .
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