Rabies quarantine in effect for Flagstaff area

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The rabies quarantine recently declared by the Coconino County Board of Supervisors for the greater Flagstaff area began on Monday and will continue through June 25.

The quarantine, requested by the Coconino County Health Department (CCHD) and enacted by the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, places certain restrictions on residents and pets within the quarantine area and will allow for the implementation of a Rabies Vaccination Program. The program consists of two elements. The first focuses on vaccinating the fox population in the greater Flagstaff area. The second element of the program involves vaccinating the skunk population in three separate areas of Flagstaff-East Flagstaff, Mt. Elden and Cheshire.

Depending on weather conditions, distribution of Oral Rabies Vaccination (ORV) packets by aircraft will begin this week. A total of 129,600 coated Oral Rabies Vaccine (ORV) packets targeting gray foxes will be dispersed by fixed-winged aircraft covering a 1,433 square mile area (excluding wilderness areas). Hand distribution of bait packets in populated areas will begin today.

On June 25, the quarantine area will be reduced to include the East Flagstaff, Mt. Elden and Cheshire areas and will continue through Sept. 10. This will enable staff to continue the Trap Vaccinate and Release (TVR) program directed at the skunk population.

Quarantine restrictions

All cats and dogs must be confined within an enclosure or secured on the owner's property; or when not on the owner's property, pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet. State law also requires that dogs be leashed and under the owner's control. Cats or dogs found at-large in the area will be impounded. This requirement will increase the likelihood that the baits are ingested by the intended wildlife and that pets are not unintentionally trapped during the TVR Program.

All persons within the quarantine area who own or control domesticated dogs and cats must make sure that their pets are vaccinated and that vaccinations are up to date. Rabies vaccinations are available from local veterinarians.

Second Chance Center for Animals will offer rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats at the Pets In The Pines event at Wheeler Park on Sunday, June 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $10. Additional vaccination clinics can be scheduled at Second Chance Center for Animals throughout the summer. Visit www.secondchancecenter.org or call (928) 526-5964 for information. The next low-cost CCHD Rabies Vaccination Clinic will be held Saturday, July 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Coconino Humane Association. The cost for rabies vaccinations is $6 for dogs and cats. Checks and cash payment will be accepted.

During the quarantine period, a team of staff and volunteers from partner agencies will be distributing vaccine bait in selected parts of the quarantine area and continuing public education. The quarantine allows the Health Department and participating agencies to enter private property to place vaccine bait packets. The vaccine bait packets are not harmful to humans or animals; however, the Health Department recommends that you avoid touching or disturbing the packets.

People are prohibited from interfering with the bait packets in any way, to help ensure that enough wild animals become vaccinated by eating the bait.

Feeding wild animals is also prohibited as a part of the quarantine. This will help to minimize the opportunity for exposure to pets and humans by keeping wild animals away from homes, pets and people. In addition, pet owners must not leave pet food outside after sundown, and compost bins and piles must be completely enclosed.

Wild animals may not be trapped within the quarantine area limits or transported outside the area without prior written approval from the Coconino County Health Department. Do not approach a wild animal. Call the Health Department for assistance at (928) 679-7350.

In 2009, 35 animals tested positive for rabies. No positive rabies cases have been reported in Coconino County this year. Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of mammals, including humans. The disease is almost always fatal when not treated. Rabies can be transmitted from wild animals to pets such as cats and dogs, making human exposure a real possibility. Rabies can also be transmitted from wild animals to humans.

The vaccination program will be conducted in partnership with the Arizona Office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services (USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services Program). USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services Program is providing funding for the Rabies Vaccination Program.

A copy of the Quarantine Declaration and a map of the quarantine areas are available at

www.coconino.az.gov/health.

Please contact the Coconino County Health Department Rabies Information Line at (928) 679-7350 or 1-877-679-7272 for additional information.

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