Rabies Prevention

October 6, 2017


Tribal Health Department


The Tribal Health Department’s Animal Control Program would like to wish everyone a “Happy Fall to all”. Along with this season, comes the worry of rabies. Rabies is caused by a virus that infects the central nervous system, including the spinal cord and brain. Rabies is nearly always fatal once symptoms appear.


Anyone that has had direct contact with a bat or other wild animals (especially foxes, skunks, and bobcats) should seek medical attention right away. Rabid animals may show unusual behavior and may become aggressive and attempt to bite people, pets, and livestock. Wild animals exhibiting unusual behavior should be reported as soon as possible.



Examples of unusual behavior are: wild animals that show no fear of people or pets; nocturnal animals that are active in daylight; and bats found on the ground, in swimming pools, or that have been caught by a pet.


There is little explanation as to why rabid animals are seen more often during this time of year. To date, seven cases of animal rabies have been reported to Maricopa County Health Department. People have had to receive preventative rabies shots after being exposed to laboratory confirmed rabid animals. In 2016, Maricopa County had five cases of lab confirmed rabies.


It is very important to leave bats alone.


Many individuals have handled live or dead bats thinking it is safe to do so, but it is never safe to handle such animals. If your pet has had contact with a bat, be sure to contact the Gila River Animal Control Program at (520) 562-5177.


Domestic animals such as dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies which can be obtained free of charge with the Animal Control Program.


Recommended precautions against rabies include:


  • Keeping people and pets away from wild animals
  • Do not “rescue” abandoned young wild animals
  • Spay and neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted animals.
  • Vaccinate all dogs and cats annually
  • Do not disturb roosting (sleeping) bats

For more information about rabies in Maricopa County and surrounding areas, please visit www.MCRabies.org.


For information on how to obtain important vaccinations for your pets, please contact the Tribal Health Department Animal Control Program at (520) 562-5177.