Rabies Alert for Pima and Santa Cruz counties

Rabies Alert for Santa Cruz and Pima Counties in Arizona

From October 25 to November 19, 2013 there have been four skunks that have tested positive for rabies. These skunks were found in Pima and Santa Cruz counties along the I-19 corridor near the Pima-Santa Cruz border. In three cases, the skunk approached dogs in their yards and were either killed by the dogs or attacked the dogs. In one case, a skunk walked through an open door into a house. This is a higher number of rabid skunks than one would expect at this time of year. It’s more typical to find rabid skunks in the spring. In these two counties, there were a total of 8 rabid skunks in 2011 and 7 in 2012. Through November 19 there have been 10 rabid skunks in 2013. As noted above, the skunks have demonstrated bizarre behavior.

This may be a seasonal or cyclical variation of rabies infections in skunks. Or it may be the initial cases in an epizootic, which means that more cases may occur in the weeks ahead. These cases occurred in residential areas but the threat extends to rural areas including premises with horses and/or livestock. If you notice a skunk out in the day time, or one that seems “friendly”, do not approach it. Contact local Animal Control for assistance.

Livestock, horses and pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) are all susceptible to infection with the rabies virus from a rabid animal bite. Vaccination against rabies is commonly used in dogs, cats, ferrets and horses. Vaccination protects both the animal itself and the people around that animal from the wildlife reservoir for rabies. This is a good reminder to keep rabies vaccinations current. Livestock are not routinely vaccinated against rabies unless they are extremely valuable or in frequent contact with people, at petting zoos for example. If you suspect your animal has had an encounter with a skunk or other rabid animal, (bats, coyotes, bobcats, etc.) please contact your veterinarian or the Arizona State Veterinarian’s Office for advice. If any person may have been exposed to a rabid animal, contact the Arizona Department of Health Services at (602) 364-3676. More information about rabies is available at the DHS web site: http://www.azdhs.gov/phs/oids/vector/rabies/index.htm

New Administrative Assistant to AZ State Veterinarian

Cyndi Clayton Hilgen is the new Administrative Assistant to the Arizona State Veterinarian.

A native of the Philadelphia area, Cyndi spent most of her life there where she graduated from Harcum College, an AVMA accredited Veterinary Technology program.  She was trained at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and the New Bolton Center.  She obtained her CVT in Pennsylvania and practiced in small animal general practices, large animal hospitals, specialty practices and was the equine nurse in a military academy equestrian facility.

In 2006, she moved to Arizona, obtained her CVT and continued her career in specialty practice and education where she was instrumental in preparing a vet tech program for their AVMA accreditation.

She is a member of NAVTA, AAHA and a certified equine massage therapist.  In 2001 she was awarded the Unsung Hero award from the Veterinary Health Care Team of Arizona for her dedication and professionalism as a technician in the veterinary field.


Another New Assistant State Veterinarian

Introducing Dr. Susan Gale

Hi, my name is Sue Gale and I recently joined the Animal Services Division of the Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA) as an Assistant State Veterinarian.

I am a lifelong Minnesotan. I received my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at the University of Minnesota and worked for many years in clinical veterinary practice with both farm and pet animals.

Prior to joining the AZDA, I needed some more experience and education to switch my career path from clinical practice to veterinary public health. In 2011 and 2012 I was a Veterinary Public Health Resident at the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety, College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) in St. Paul, MN.  Over the course of this two-year residency, I gained experience working in collaboration with livestock agriculture producers, regulatory agencies and academia partners on emergency preparedness projects for the National Veterinary Stockpile ( http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/emergency_management/nvs.shtml ) and Secure Egg Supply ( www.secureeggsupply.com ).

During the residency, I was also enrolled in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. I hope to complete my Master in Public Health degree in early 2014.

My areas of responsibility within the Animal Services Division include the design and implementation of emergency preparedness plans specifically for Arizona livestock agriculture, and oversight of food safety and public health programs.

I’m excited about the opportunity to work with Dr. Durham, Associate Director Leatta McLaughlin and the entire ASD staff as we develop the programs that will continue to protect Arizona’s livestock agriculture and public health. And I’m looking forward to a winter of above freezing temperatures.