Fox Bite Attacks Bring Alabama Public Health Alert

Two more people have been bitten by foxes in Baldwin County, Five people in Baldwin County have been bitten by rabid foxes since May 21. This new round of attacks is prompting concern from Alabama Public health about rabies.

On July 6, a fox attacked a young teen at a Robertsdale park and attacked her dog before running off. The next day a fox attacked a disabled man as he sat in his wheelchair outside his apartment’s front door. Both individuals have begun post-exposure treatment at a local hospital.

Environmental Director Greg Dunn, Southwestern District:

“The park and apartment were in close proximity, and it is believed to be the same fox.”

The Robertsdale animal control officer caught a fox, the fox died, and the local game warden took it to the Mobile Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing. The results have not been confirmed.

“This situation is very alarming, especially since these bites have taken place in densely populated areas,” Dunn added.

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.”

Alabama 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
• 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 alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/rabies.

Image by Davide Simonetti

Fox Bite Attacks Bring Alabama Public Health Alert

Staff Writers

The staff writers at Cullman Today are a collaborative group of citizen reporters sharing the writing of stories based upon their personal interests and work schedules.

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