First rabid fox in area since 1994 found near Jacksonville

A fox found dead near Jacksonville tested positive for rabies late last week, Jackson County Environmental Public Health officials reported.

It is the first fox to test positive for the disease in Jackson County since 1994, though several foxes have tested positive in Josephine County in recent years.

The fox was found dead at a home. It tested positive for rabies at Oregon State University's Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory in Corvallis on Nov. 29.

A house cat with bite wounds, presumably from the fox, was nearby. The cat has been vaccinated for rabies. Health officials said it is under quarantine at the home and will be monitored over the next six months.

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the nervous system in mammals. Symptom in animals include tiredness, loss of muscular coordination, tremors, aggressiveness, excessive drooling, disorientation and no fear of unfamiliar humans. Wild animals exhibiting any of those symptoms should be reported to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife by calling 1-866-968-2600.

County health officials said the strain found in foxes originated in bats. The virus typically spreads to house pets when they are bitten by a bite or bite another rabid animal.

Health officials recommend pet owners vaccinate their animals against rabies. Garbage should also be kept in secure containers, reducing the risk of drawing wild animals near the home. Pets also should be fed indoors.

Additionally, openings in the home, including attics, basements and sheds, should be sealed to keep bats and other wild animals out.

— Ryan Pfeil

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