Two foxes captured in west Washoe Valley tested positive for rabies this week, and officials are urging people to get their dogs and cats vaccinated against the disease.
Horse owners are urged to consult with a veterinarian.
One of the foxes was captured on Friday and the other on Monday near Bowers Mansion, said Cass Luke, spokeswoman for Washoe County's District Health Department.
"We see some rabies routinely in bats, but to see it in wildlife that run around ranches is a little disconcerting," said Carson City veterinarian Dr. Woodrow Allen.
"It would behoove people in outlying areas, those in contact with coyotes and foxes, to vaccinate any warm-blooded animals they own."
He said a rabid animal will occasionally look like the common depiction, snarling and drooling, but in many cases infected animals will act timid and slink off. He urged anyone finding an animal in this state to leave them alone.
"If they're approached and cornered, they will bite," he said.
Animals infected with the virus live only 10 days, and all dead animals found in the wild or otherwise are suspect, Allen said.
The U.S. Wildlife Service is collecting other animals in Washoe Valley for testing and the public is urged to be alert for any strange behavior in coyotes, skunks or foxes.
"They're looking for animals that are ill," Luke said. "They're not picking up all the animals they find."
Those exhibiting symptoms will be euthanized. Samples of their brain tissue will be sent to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., for examination.
Any animal exhibiting suspicious behavior should be reported to Washoe District Health at 328-2434, or to local animal control.
The animal should not be brought to the health department.
Transmission begins when infected saliva from a host is passed to an uninfected animal, the most common mode of transmission through a bite from an infected host.
According to officials at the centers, the rabies virus causes an acute encephalitis in all warm-blooded hosts, including humans. The outcome is usually fatal.
In the United States, several distinct rabies virus variants have been identified in raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes. Several species of insect-eating bats are also reservoirs for rabies, officials said.
To report a suspected rabid animal, call Washoe District Health at 328-2434 or a local Animal Control office.