June 15, 2018

State of Alabama
Press Release: Public Health, Alabama Department of

Other rabid foxes confirmed in densely populated areas of Baldwin County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Dee W. Jones, D.V.M.
(334) 206-5100 or 1-800-338-8374

An employee of a company that takes care of wild pests was bitten by a rabid fox June 13 in an area between U.S. Highway 98 and downtown Fairhope. This is the fourth bite of a human by three different rabid foxes recently.

“This situation is very unusual and alarming, especially since the employee was bitten in a densely populated area,” Environmental Director Greg Dunn, Southwestern District, said.

The employee, a wildlife specialist, was on a call from a client complaining about a fox growling on her front porch. When the specialist arrived, he was attacked at the back fence by the fox. The specialist stated that the fox was “the most aggressive animal he had encountered.” The fox bit him on his boot, but since he was wearing gloves he was able to force the fox to release his boot.

Fortunately, the victim had received pre-exposure vaccine and is being checked by a physician. The fox was euthanized, tested by the Alabama Department of Public Health Mobile Laboratory, and found to have rabies.

Other incidents occurred in late May. On May 21, the Baldwin County Health Department received reports of three individuals being bitten by rabid foxes in the Eastern Shore area.

The first incident occurred when a fox came out of the woods and, unprovoked, bit a golfer who was on a course in Fairhope. An employee of that club reported the fox to animal control, and when he approached to look for the fox, the fox attacked again and the employee was bitten.

Another incident occurred in Spanish Fort where a fox suddenly appeared and bit a man twice while working in his garden. The fox was not found. All three individuals have begun routine post-exposure treatment. In addition, a dog was bitten by a fox on May 22 in Spanish Fort.

The rabies virus is transmitted by saliva. In general, rabies exposure requires direct contact with infected saliva, usually through a bite or a scratch, but other less common contact exposures with mucous membranes (eyes, nose and mouth) are also considered as potential exposures.

State Public Health Veterinarian, Dr. Dee W. Jones, said, “Rabies prevention is multifaceted; it involves people taking precautions with wildlife, making sure their pets are current on rabies vaccinations, and always reporting an animal bite or other exposure to their medical provider or the health department.”

Area residents are advised to take the following precautions to avoid possible exposure to rabies:

  • Do not allow pets to run loose; confine them within a fenced-in area or with a leash.
  • Do not leave uneaten pet food or scraps near your residence.
  • Do not illegally feed or keep wildlife as pets.
  • Do not go near wildlife or domestic animals that are acting in a strange or unusual manner.
  • Caution children not to go near any stray or wild animal, regardless of its behavior.
  • Advise children to tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by any animal.
  • A person who is bitten or scratched by an animal should wash wounds immediately with mild soap and water, apply first aid, and seek medical attention or contact the county health department immediately.

Alabama state law requires that dogs, cats and ferrets 12 weeks of age and older be current with rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccines are also available for horses and other livestock if recommended by a veterinarian. Vaccinating animals reduces the risk of rabies infection should an exposure occur; thus vaccinations help protect animals, as well as their owners and caretakers.

For more information about rabies and prevention, please contact the Baldwin County Health Department at (251) 947-3618. You may also call ADPH at 1-800-338-8374 or (334) 206-5100 or visit http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/rabies.html.

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6/15/18



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