Rabid fox attacks person near Bay County airport

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A Gray Fox which attacked a person in the Burnt Mill Creek neighborhood, just southeast of Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, has tested positive for rabies.

This fox is Bay County’s third confirmed case of rabies in 2018.

In May, a raccoon captured off Cabana Blvd in Panama City Beach tested positive for rabies, and in February, a raccoon captured in the Cove area of Panama City also tested positive.

Rabies is a fatal viral infection of the nervous system. It's transmitted from animal to animal and animal to human by either a bite, scratch, or mucous membrane exposure to infected saliva.

The Florida Department of Health in Bay County would like to remind citizens to avoid contact with wild animals and stray domestic animals.

Florida Law requires all dogs and cats over four months of age to be vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian.

If bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek medical treatment if needed. Officials with the Florida Department of Health urge anyone injured by an animal to contact their Bay County office at (850) 872-4455.

If the animal is stray or wild, call 911 or Bay County Animal Services at (850) 767-3333 and report the animal’s location. If you live in the city of Lynn Haven, you can call the Lynn Haven Police Department at (850) 265-1112.

Officials say rabies is preventable when treatment is provided in a timely manner.

The following advice is issued:
— Secure outside garbage in covered containers to avoid attracting wild animals.
— Do not leave pet food outside overnight as this attracts wild animals to your home and increases the chance of a pet-raccoon conflict.
— If your dog or cat fights with a wild animal, contact the Florida Department of Health in Bay County immediately. The wild animal will need to be tested for rabies. Your animal may need to be quarantined. Do not shoot suspected rabid animals in the head.
— Do not touch animals that are not yours. Avoid contact with all wildlife, especially raccoons, bats, bobcats, otters, foxes, skunks and coyotes. No animal is too young to have rabies. A rabid animal may act friendly.
— Wear rubber gloves and protective eye wear when dressing/butchering wild animals to avoid exposure to rabies and other diseases. Cook all meat thoroughly to 165 degrees.
— For general questions pertaining to stray animals or odd acting wild animals, contact your area’s animal control department.
— For questions regarding the health of a pet, contact a veterinarian.
— Teach your children about rabies and to NEVER TOUCH A BAT!

For further information on rabies, we've attached a link to this article.