Rabies warning for hikers/campers east of Mesa

Posted: Updated:
Signs have been posted about an increased in rabies cases near popular trails east of Mesa. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Signs have been posted about an increased in rabies cases near popular trails east of Mesa. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The Arizona Department of Health Services lab confirmed two cases of rabies. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Arizona Department of Health Services lab confirmed two cases of rabies. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Officials said to make sure pets are vaccinated and make sure they’re not able to roam free. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Officials said to make sure pets are vaccinated and make sure they’re not able to roam free. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Pinal County, Maricopa County and state public health officials are warning about an increase in rabies cases near popular trails and campgrounds east of Mesa.

The Arizona Department of Health Services lab confirmed two cases of rabies; one coyote and one fox near the Superstition Mountains.

[READ MORE: Rabies confirmed in animals found in Superstition Mountain area]

Rabies warning signs are posted at the gates at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, the First Water Trail and the Tonto National Forest.

The Rabies Warning sign reads:

Attention Hikers and Campers

A case of rabies in gray fox was recently confirmed in this area. Arizona Game and Fish Department advises taking the following precautions:

  • Always keep people and pets away from wild animals.
  • Report any wild animal exhibiting erratic or aggressive behavior to park authorities.
  • Never pick up, touch, or feed wild or unfamiliar animals, even if they do not appear sick or aggressive.

If you're bitten or have contact with a wild animal, seek immediate medical attention and call the park or public health officials.

  • Lost Dutchman State Park: 480-982-4485
  • Pinal County Public Health Line: 520-866-7325
  • AZGFD Radio Dispatch (24/7): 623-236-7201

"Just to clarify, we don’t want anyone to change their plans about hiking this weekend," said Amy Burnett with Arizona Game and Fish. "Go out, enjoy the wild. Enjoy your local trails, get outside. Just use common sense."

Burnett added to make sure pets are vaccinated and keep them on a leash at all times; that way you can pull them back if a wild animal approaches them.

"You really can’t tell if an animal has rabies," she explained. "There’s a period of time where they don’t exhibit any symptoms.They may never exhibit symptoms."

That's why she said it's important to treat every wild animal, even if they're friendly and approach you, like they're rabid.

"If you encounter a wild animal on the trail that’s acting aggressively, strangely, you should always turn around and go the other way," she advised.

According to an email sent by Craig Levy, an epizoologist with the communicable disease unit in the Office of Epidemiology, here is the list confirmed and suspected rabies cases and where:

  • Late October - rabid coyote (lab confirmed) at the Burnt Corral Camp Ground, Apache Lake in Maricopa County
  • Early November - rabid fox (lab confirmed)) on the Siphon Draw Trail at Lost Dutchman State Park in Pinal County
  • Early November - trail crews working in the First Water Trail area observed two or three dead foxes and encountered a fox that acted aggressively towards them
  • Early November - a coyote in the First Water area was reported to be lunging at at tent

State Parks, National Forest Service, and Arizona Game and Fish have posted rabies warning signs throughout near the Superstition Mountains at trailheads and campgrounds.

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