ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — A fox believed to have bitten two Robertsdale residents over the weekend tested positive for rabies on Monday, according to a post on the Robertsdale Police …
ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — A fox believed to have bitten two Robertsdale residents over the weekend tested positive for rabies on Monday, according to a post on the Robertsdale Police Department’s Facebook page.
According to a release issued Monday by the Alabama Department of Public Health, a fox attacked a young teen and her dog on Friday, July 6 at a park in Robertsdale before running off.
The next day, a fox attacked a disabled man as he sat in his wheelchair outside his apartment’s front door on Mattingly Street. Both individuals have begun post-exposure treatment at a local hospital.
“The park and apartment were in close proximity, and it is believed to be the same fox,” ADPH Environmental Director Greg Dunn, Southwestern District, said.
According to a Facebook post, at approximately 3 p.m. officers were dispatched to a park on East Chicago Street (Anna Belle Beverly Park) for the report of a fox charging at a group of residents. Robertsdale Police Officers were able to capture the fox, who was taken Monday to the Mobile Public Health Laboratory in Mobile, where he tested positive for rabies, according to reports.
Several incidents of fox bites have been reported in on the Eastern Shore of Baldwin County.
On May 19, a golfer at Rock Creek Golf Club was reportedly bitten on the leg. A groundskeeper at Rock Creek was also bitten on May 20 while trying to catch the fox.
Two more attacks were reported at Spanish Fort Estates, one involving a man who was bitten while working in his yard and another where a dog was bitten in her owner’s backyard.
A fifth fox reportedly bit a wildlife trapper on his shoe on June 13 while being captured off of Fairhope Avenue.
The Robertsdale Police Department is urging residents to report any animals which are behaving in a manner which raises alarm.
“If any wild animal approaches a person, that person should take protective measures and leave the area,” according to the Facebook post, “or seek shelter if the animal is aggressive, and notify the City.”
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.
“This situation is very alarming, especially since these bites have taken place in densely populated areas,” Dunn said.
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 alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/rabies.
Submitted release with additional reporting by Onlooker co-editor John Underwood.