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Rabid Fox Identified in Tift County

TIFTON – The Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District has been working with Tift County Animal Control following an incident involving a human and animal exposure to a rabid fox. The incident occurred on Thursday, September 14. The fox was exterminated the day of the incident and was sent for lab testing immediately, where a rabies diagnosis was confirmed.

If a person comes into contact with an animal that is believed to be rabid, the individual should seek medical treatment for post-exposure as quickly as possible.

“After a person seeks medical care, it is very important that they report the bite to Tift County Animal Control or Tift County Health Department,” Tamika Pridgon Environmental Health Specialist said. “We take reports of possible rabies exposure extremely seriously and want to ensure we can take the proper steps to protect the public’s health.”

It is also important for individuals to report animals that are acting strangely and exhibiting signs of rabies to animal control immediately. Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis. Warmer weather increases the possibility of coming across wild animals – many of which can carry rabies – so residents are encouraged to be especially vigilant during summer months.

Several species of wild animals that are native to South Georgia – including raccoons, foxes, and bats – can carry rabies. Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals. The Tift County Environmental Health office offers these tips to protect you and your family from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines by four months of age, followed by a booster shot one year later, and another one every year as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Tift County Animal Control at 229-382-7387 and the Tift County Environmental Health office at 229-386-7967.

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