A fox in Autauga County that attacked a person and their pets has tested positive for rabies. The encounter occurred on Monday, April 25, near Wood Valley Ridge off Highway 31 North between Prattville and the Interstate 65 – Exit 186 interchange.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) has since confirmed the result by laboratory testing and has notified the individuals that were exposed to seek medical attention and the pets have received a booster rabies vaccination. This is the first confirmed case of rabies in Autauga County this year. Last year, two cats were confirmed positive in Prattville.
According to Dr. Dee W Jones, State Public Health Veterinarian, additional testing is being performed to determine the strain of rabies. He indicates that it is expected to be the raccoon strain, which is the primary reservoir of rabies in terrestrial animals in Alabama. He states that instances of wildlife species attacking people is not common, but it does happen because of the altered mental states the virus causes in the animal.
“In the past, we have had multiple instances of foxes attacking people in other areas of the state, and it is very possible that because of the communal nature of foxes, it is entirely likely that there may be additional positive foxes found within the geographical proximity to this one,” Dr. Jones said.
He states that although it is rare for a human to have direct contact, 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 an exposure occur; thus, vaccinations help protect animals, as well as their owners and caretakers.
In addition to vaccination, 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.
The Autauga County rabies officer, Dr. Allison Trotter, will be holding reduced fee vaccinations on Saturday, April 30, and Saturday, May 7, at various locations throughout Autauga County. The fee for rabies vaccination is $12 per animal. For specific locations and times, please contact her at (334) 365-7543.