A local builder had to act quickly when he heard the screams of a young child earlier this month on Golden Farm Road in Bettie. The builder, who was working on a home nearby, ran toward the sound and found a fox attacking a boy around six years old.
That’s when he sprung into action, according to Capt. James McClenny of the county Sheriff’s office.
“He ran to the child’s aid and saw what as happening,” McClenny said. “He grabbed the fox by the scruff of the neck, pulling him off the child.”
Sgt. Al Willis and Deputy Conold Belizaire of the Sheriff’s department and Animal Control arrived on scene shortly after the attack was discovered.
“The man released the fox into a nearby trash can to prevent its escape,” McClenny continued, “and Sgt. Willis dispatched the fox.”
Authorities submitted a specimen to the State Public Health Lab for testing. The results confirmed the fox tested positive for rabies.
The child sustained multiple bites from the fox. He had bites to both hands, the front and back of his left leg and front of the right leg. He was treated for his injuries and began treatment for exposure to rabies.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, Rabies (Lyssavirus) is an infectious disease that affects the central nervous system in mammals. It’s transmitted through the saliva a few days before death when the animal “sheds” the virus.
Rabies is not transmitted through the blood, urine or feces of an infected animal, nor is it spread airborne through the open environment. Because it affects the nervous system, most rabid animals behave abnormally. Foxes in western Alaska, parts of Arizona and Texas and the eastern United States are victims more frequently than foxes in other areas.
Rabies travels from the brain to the salivary glands during the final stage of the disease—this is when an animal can spread the disease, most commonly through a bite.
Rabies can’t go through unbroken skin. People can get rabies only via a bite from a rabid animal or possibly through scratches, abrasions, open wounds or mucous membranes in contact with saliva or brain tissue from a rabid animal.
The rabies virus is short-lived when exposed to open air—it can only survive in saliva and dies when the animal’s saliva dries up.
If you handle a pet who has been in a fight with a potentially rabid animal, take precautions such as wearing gloves to keep any still-fresh saliva from getting into an open wound.
If you are bitten by a potentially rabid animal, scrub and flush the wound, then go to your doctor or an emergency room.