“We received confirmation Wednesday that the fox killed in Lincoln the first week of May was positive for rabies,” said Dr. Larry Chasteen, St. Clair County rabies officer.
Chasteen said the fox chased a dog into a residence on Eureka Road, following it through the pet door.
“A fight ensued in the house between the fox and the dog, and the dog was bitten,” he said.
Chasteen said the fox was killed and brought to Logan Martin Vet Clinic in Pell City, where Chasteen is a veterinarian. Samples were shipped to the state laboratory for testing.
“Thankfully, the dog had a current rabies vaccination,” Chasteen said. “We immediately revaccinated the dog for rabies as a precaution. The dog will be under at-home quarantine for 45 days.”
Chasteen said that had the dog not had a current rabies vaccination, the only options would have been either euthanasia or quarantine in a veterinary facility for six months.
“The main thing people need to know is to make sure their animals are vaccinated for rabies,” he said. “Your pet is the first thing to come in contact with rabid animals.”
Chasteen said county rabies vaccination clinics had been scheduled for May, but were rescheduled because of storm damage at many of the clinic locations.
“We will reschedule those clinics this fall, in August and September most likely,” he said. “But don’t wait for a county clinic if your pet needs to be revaccinated. Any veterinary clinic can do the rabies vaccinations.”
Chasteen said this is the first fox and only the second terrestrial animal with rabies he has dealt with in 25 years.
“We had a rabid coyote last October from the Shoal Creek area,” he said. “That was the only land-based animal with rabies we’ve seen in St. Clair County.”
Chasteen said in St. Clair County rabies is more commonly seen in bats.
“We see a rabid bat every three to four years,” he said. “But we constantly monitor for it. If a wild animal is acting suspicious, we send off samples to the state lab.”
Chasteen said he sends the lab about 15-25 samples a year, a number that has steadily increased over the years.
“The problem is, for years rabies has been coming up from east Alabama moving north and west,” he said. “Raccoons are the big culprit at this time, and also bats.”
Chasteen said classical signs of rabies include:
• Dogs and cats behavior can be either aggressive/vicious or dumb/paralytic, when the animal appears to be in a stupor and doesn’t move much. Cats are more prone to the dumb/paralytic behavior, but can also become aggressive/vicious.
• Drool and froth at the mouth.
• The animal can’t swallow. It will be extremely thirsty, but will not be able to drink.
“If you can approach a wild animal — don’t,” he said. “If you see an animal behaving suspiciously, contact the authorities. If you have an animal control officer, call them, or the local police or sheriff’s department, or even Fish and Game (at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources).”
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