Fox Transmits Rabies to Covington County Child

The Alabama Department of Public Health is reminding folks to be aware of stray animals and the possiblity of contracting rabies afer a six year old Covington County child tested positive from a fox bite.

Here is is what the ADPH tells WSFA 12 News:

A six year old child is undergoing post exposure rabies vaccinations after being bitten by a fox near King Road in the Mill Creek community of Covington County.

The fox was killed by a family member, and it was sent by the Covington County Health Department to the public health laboratory in Mobile where it tested positive for rabies.

The child began receiving rabies vaccinations at Andalusia Regional Hospital emergency room on Sunday, July 6, 2008, due to the suspicious nature of the fox's unprovoked attack.

The animal was sent by courier to the Mobile lab on Monday evening, and they reported the positive finding Tuesday.

So far this year, the state lab has tested 19 animals from Covington County and 4 have tested positive for rabies, 2 foxes and 2 raccoons.

People should not approach stray or unknown animals and wildlife.

Raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks are most often responsible for transmitting the rabies virus to domesticated animals and humans.

Immunization of domestic dogs and cats provides the only "buffer" between wildlife and humans.

Remember to warn children not to touch, pick up, or feed wild or unfamiliar animals.

Avoid sick or strange-acting animals.

A wild animal that appears friendly, docile, or that approaches humans should be avoided. Nocturnal animals, such as raccoons and bats that become active in the daytime, are suspect.

Stray animals pose a continuous public health threat; not only from rabies, but from the possible bite wounds and animal attacks in general.

Alabama state law requires all dogs, cats, ferretts and wolf hybrids three months of age and older to be vaccinated annually for rabies.

Due to the confirmation of a rabid wildlife in covington county pet owners are encouraged to make sure their dogs and cats are vaccinated against this fatal disease.

Horses and other livestock having close contact with people - like show calves and pet goats - should likewise be immunized.

If bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound with soapy water for 10 minutes and see a doctor immediately.

Call officials at your animal control center and the health department.

If your pet is scratched or bitten by another animal, contact your veterinarian.

This case serves as evidence that rabies is well extablished in this area and can spill over into domestic animals.

Rabies is an invariably fatal viral disease with no effective treatment once symptoms begin.

Traditional rabies prevention has focused on the immunization of dogs and cats to develop the buffer between wildlife rabies and people.