There have been two more people attacked by a rabid fox in Baldwin County. This time it was in Robertsdale. The State Health Department issued a press release Monday, July 09, 2018 warning folks to take precautions. Robertsdale Police were able to capture the fox after it attacked its second victim Sunday near Honey Bee Park.
Robertsdale Police posted body-cam footage on its Facebook page as a warning to citizens. In it, a rabid fox is seen rushing an officer. The officer was able to defend himself with his baton. Otherwise, he could have been the third person to be bitten by what health department officials believe to be the same fox.
“In the video, they are not really approaching the fox. They are just standing a perimeter and keeping an eye on it,” Lt. Rex Bishop with Robertsdale Police explained. “We were waiting for the animal control truck to get there with the catch pole…have some better equipment. Unfortunately, it forced their hand whenever it charged at the officer.”
The fox tested positive for rabies, leaving two victims to go through a lengthy treatment process. Earl Brooks was on his front porch Sunday afternoon, drinking a cup of coffee when the fox came around the building and attacked him.
“The fox…what? Oh, no, no. The fox…clamped down.” Brooks said, pointing at the injuries to his feet.
Brooks recounted the attack the best he could. He suffered a stroke several years ago and is confined to a wheelchair, which made it hard to fend off the fox. Both of his feet were bitten. Two hours later, police got a call from a park near the apartment. Visitors there reported a fox charging at them.
“Our officers responded to that area and then they were able to spot this fox,” Bishop said. “It was acting very abnormal for a fox. It was afternoon.”
The park is the same one the State Health Department reported a teenage girl and her dog being attacked the day before. Health officials believe the same fox was responsible for each of the attacks.
There have now been five confirmed attacks rabid foxes since May in Baldwin County, including the recent ones in Robertsdale. The others were at the Rock Creek Golf Course in Fairhope, and another near a home near downtown Fairhope. A man and a dog were also attacked in Spanish Fort, but that fox was never found, which means those don't count as an official rabid fox attack, according to the Baldwin County Health Department.
Wildlife expert JJ McCool with Wildlife Solutions said he's never seen a spike in rabid fox attacks quite like this. He believes rabid bats may be to blame for spreading the disease across the county.
“It’s very uncommon what’s going on here," he said.
McCool's business partner Mike is one of the victims. He wrangled a rabid fox in Fairhope about a month ago after it bit his boot.
McCool said part of the problem is the combination of Baldwin County’s booming growth, and the spacious landscape people love to call home.
"You’re gonna have more animal and human conflicts because of that. It’s just the nature of the beast. We live in a great place for us, we live in a great place for wildlife.”
Because of the number of attacks, the Alabama Department of Public Health put out a press release listing several precautions folks should take:
"Area residents are advised to take the following precautions to avoid possible exposure to rabies:Do not allow pets to run loose; confine them within a fenced-in area or with a leash. Do not leave uneaten pet food or scraps near your residence. Do not illegally feed or keep wildlife as pets. Do not go near wildlife or domestic animals that are acting in a strange or unusual manner. Caution children not to go near any stray or wild animal, regardless of its behavior. Advise children to tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by any animal. A person who is bitten or scratched by an animal should wash wounds immediately with mild soap and water, apply first aid, and seek medical attention or contact the county health department immediately. Alabama state law requires that dogs, cats and ferrets 12 weeks of age and older be current with rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccines are also available for horses and other livestock if recommended by a veterinarian. Vaccinating animals reduces the risk of rabies infection should an exposure occur; thus vaccinations help protect animals, as well as their owners and caretakers."
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