Fox bites Atmore resident; precautions are advised as fox is confirmed as positive for rabies

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(Alabama Department of Public Health)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – An older Atmore resident was returning from grocery shopping and unloading her vehicle. While holding a loaf of bread in hand, seemingly from out of nowhere, she was attacked and bitten by a fox. 

The fox was taken to the Alabama Department of Public Health Bureau of Clinical Laboratories where it was confirmed positive for rabies. Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if untreated. The resident has since received appropriate medical attention and post-exposure prophylaxis.

“Although rabies is primarily found in wild animals since widespread vaccination of domestic animals began over 70 years ago, it continues to be a public health threat,” State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Dee W. Jones said.  “Although attacks such as this by rabid wildlife are rather uncommon, it highlights the risk rabies continues poses and hopefully reminds people to be aware of the risks and continue to vaccinate their pets.”

It is very common for domestic animals and pets to have contact with a wild rabid animal. 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 exposure occur; thus, vaccinations protect animals, as well as their owners and caretakers.

Rabies prevention is multifaceted. It involves people taking precautions with wildlife, making sure that their pets are current on rabies vaccinations, and always reporting an animal bite or other exposures to their medical provider and ADPH. In addition to vaccination, area residents are advised to take the following precautions to avoid possible exposures to rabies:

  • Do not allow pets to run loose; confine 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.

For more information, visit www.alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/rabies.html.