A fox collected by the Florida Department of Health in Jackson County (FDOH Jackson) has tested positive for rabies according to lab results received today from the Department of Health Tampa Branch Lab. The fox attacked an individual on Hummingbird Road in Bascom and was ultimately euthanized by the victim.
T.G. Harkrider, Environmental Health Director at FDOH Jackson said it’s important for the pubic to stay alert and to notify officials if they suspect an encounter with a rabid animal.
“Anyone having knowledge of bites or other exposure from a suspected rabid animal to humans or to domestic animals should immediately contact the Health Department at 850-482-9227 during normal working hours,” he said in a press release Wednesday.
Additionally, an answering service is available to relay information for assistance after hours and on weekends concerning animal bites and other exposure. This answering service can be reached by calling 850-526-2412. “Please call us with information and questions related to exposure,” Harkrider said. “We need to act quickly in some cases to save people’s lives. Never shoot a biting animal in the head,” he added. “An intact brain is needed to determine if the animal is rabid,” he explained.” If you shoot them in the head and destroy the brain, we have to assume the animal was rabid. Without negative lab results, treatment to the victim has to begin. Please call us. You can reach us 24 hours a day and 7 days a week through our answering service at 850-526-2412”.
Harkrider also emphasized the importance of avoiding contact with wild or unfamiliar domesticated animals to minimize the risk of exposure to rabies.
Residents are reminded that Jackson County and the State of Florida have laws requiring vaccination of all dogs and cats. “Please have your pet(s) vaccinated,” Harkrider urged.