The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed Friday that a fox found in the area of Catalina Drive in Columbus was tested by the state laboratory and found to have rabies.
Rabies is a deadly virus that affects the brain and spinal cord of mammals. It is invariably fatal in animals and nearly always fatal in humans without prompt medical attention.
“Residents should contact Animal Control officers if any stray, domestic animals, or wildlife such or bats, raccoons, foxes, etc., are seen in your area,” said the department.
There is no surefire way to spot a rabid animal without testing, but there are a few warning signs, according to the Humane Society. The animal may bite or nip at imaginary objects or appear drunk, wobbly or disoriented. The virus is transmitted through saliva, so it causes the animal to drool excessively — the telltale “foaming at the mouth.”
Another clue is if a typically nocturnal animal, like a skunk or raccoon, is wandering around during the day. Even if it is not behaving aggressively, it may have progressed into the “dumb” phase of the virus where the animal appears dazed and fearless.
The health department advised residents to follow the following precautions to protect themselves and their pets.
- Have all of your dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies.
- Do not pick up or handle any stray dog or cat, or any wild animals- call local animal control to pick it up.
- Report any animal bites and or scratches to the Health Department. During non-business hours, contact Poison Control at 800-222-1222 to report.
- Contact Animal Control to report any animals that are behaving strangely or aggressively.
- If your pet is behaving strangely or is injured, contact your local veterinarian.
- Teach children about the dangers of stray and wild animals.
- If you are bitten or scratched by any animal.
1. Wash and rinse the wound thoroughly for several minutes.
2. Apply a disinfectant.
3. Seek medical attention at once.
4. Report the animal bite and/or scratch to the Health Department.
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE