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Mon, July 22

Rabid fox attacks Verde Valley woman

State health officials confirmed Tuesday that a fox that attacked a Verde Valley woman Nov. 23 was rabid.

This is at least the third confirmed case of rabies in Yavapai County wildlife this year, according to Arizona Department of Health Services statistics. The others were a bat and javelina.

A total of 51 wild animals had tested positive for rabies across Arizona as of Nov. 18. Twelve people and 35 domestic animals were exposed to rabies.

The Rimrock woman put her small dog on a leash in her front yard Nov. 23 and heard a yelp, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services report.

When she went outside, a fox chased her and bit her on the heel, leg and thigh. She screamed and ran into the house, with the fox still chasing her.

When a neighbor came to help, the fox attacked him, too. He told authorities he kicked the fox about 20 times before shooting and killing it.

According to county health officials, rabies is an infectious disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. People and unvaccinated animals can get rabies from the bite of an infected animal or if saliva from the animal gets directly into a person's or animal's eyes, nose, mouth or any break in the skin. Rabies is nearly always fatal if not treated after exposure results in infection.

Wild animals such as foxes, skunks and coyotes are more likely than domestic animals to be infected with rabies because of widespread vaccination of domestic animals. Domestic cats, dogs, ferrets and horses can become infected if they are not vaccinated.

Follow these tips to prevent rabies:

• Never handle a wild animal like a bat, raccoon, skunk or fox.

• If you wake up in a room with a bat present, regardless if there is evidence of a bite or scratch, seek medical attention. If at all possible, trap the bat for testing. Do not release the bat.

• Wash animal bites thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.

• If bitten by a wild/stray animal, quarantine the animal if possible. Call the local animal control or the Arizona Game and Fish Department to report an incident.

• Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.

• Do not handle dead animals, especially bats.

• Prevent bats and raccoons from entering homes or spaces where people and pets may be present.

• Keep vaccinations current for dogs, cats and ferrets. Keep cats and ferrets inside and dogs under direct supervision.

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