CARLBAD, N.M. (KRQE) - A rabies outbreak in a southeastern New Mexico county is getting worse. Dozens of animals have been infected, and one person is being treated after possibly contracting the disease.
It's a problem Animal Control officers in Eddy County have seen a lot of lately, and officials want residents to be on alert.
"We have not seen anything like this in the history of Eddy County," said Carlsbad Animal Control Supervisor Tina Dorado.
The Department of Health reports Eddy County has had more rabies cases than normal. This week there have been more.
Dorado and local veterinarians attribute the increase partially to the drought, which has brought wildlife closer to humans.
"The animals are looking for food and water, and so they're coming into where its at, and because of the stress level, that's how the disease is just becoming very active," Dorado said.
Sunday night two dogs got hold of a bat in their backyard in the 600 block of Blodgett. The bat tested positive for rabies, and the dogs were up to date on vaccinations.
They'll be quarantined on their property for 45 days.
But that wasn't the case Monday when two other dogs found with a rabid raccoon near Johnson and Calloway had to be put down.
Now Dorado said there's another creature to be aware of after a man was attacked by a bat on Wednesday.
"He was in his garage, saw the bat, put on leather gloves and shooed it out of his garage when the bat somehow flew into his glove and bit him on his thumb," recalled Dorado.
The bat flew off and could not be captured for testing, so the man is being treated for rabies.
Local veterinarians said they have seen people vaccinating their animals more frequently this year and that vaccinating animals is the best line of defense people have against the disease.
Along with household pets, many owners are getting their livestock vaccinated. If contracted, it could take six months before any symptoms surface.
"Once it's active in a human being or animal, it's fatal," Dorado said. "There's no turning back."
In the case of bats or wildlife moving in on urban areas, Animal Control warns people to stay away and call them to handle it.
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