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Rabid fox enters local residence, woman is treated at ER

A Blountstown woman sustained minor injuries after a rabid gray fox walked into her house last Tuesday night. Deborah Hassig and her daughter, Anna, were visiting her mother, Betty Ann Cayson, when the unwelcome guest followed her into the house. “I was bringing a bag in and it just came from nowhere,” she tells The County Record. “It grabbed my leg and the bag I was holding. It got in the house and started running on the chairs. We were jumping on the furniture. Anna was screaming and she ran upstairs and locked herself in the bathroom.” Betty Ann came out of her bedroom to see what the ruckus was about. She was stunned to be greeted by a wild fox that attacked her leg. After latching onto Betty Ann, the fox made his exit. “I pulled the screen door open more and hid behind it and he just casually walked out,” says Deborah, who immediately took her mother to the emergency room. “I only had a few scratches, but she had to get seven stitches,” Deborah remarks. She called her son, Adam Edwards, who came over and killed the fox. Michael DeVuyst of the Calhoun County Health Department retrieved the dead animal and test results revealed it was positive for rabies. According to Devuyst, this is the second animal rabies case recorded in the past nine months in Calhoun County. Back in December, a raccoon tested positive in the St. Rose Community. “Rabies is a potentially fatal disease. It is important not to handle wild animals, to be aware of unusual acting animals and, most importantly, to keep pets vaccinated against rabies,” Gene Charbonneau, D.O., Administrator, Calhoun County Health Department says. Rabies is a deadly viral disease that can be prevented, but not cured. The virus is spread through saliva of an infected animal and can be passed to another animal or person, usually through a bite. Infection may also occur if the saliva enters open wounds, the mouth or eyes of another animal or person. In the absence of animal control in the county, the Calhoun County Health Department responds to incidents of animal bites, tests animals for rabies through the Department of Health state laboratory, and quarantines animals as necessary. Animal bite incidents are on the rise this year and the health department routinely works 35-40 cases per year. The following are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones against rabies: • Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all pets. • Keep your pets under direct supervision so they are not exposed to wild animals. If a wild animal bites your pet, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact the Calhoun County Health Department at (850) 674-5645. • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated. • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter. • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into you home. • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they might come in contact with people and pets. Anyone who is bitten or scratched by wild or stray animals should report the incident to their family physician immediately, as well as their local health department. The contact number to report an animal bite to the Calhoun County Health Department is (850) 674-5645. For more information, visit the DOH website at: www.myfloridaeh.com/medicine/rabies/rabies-index.html or the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies.

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