Albany residents report possible rabid fox

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) – After calls to the Dougherty County Police Department about reports of a fox behind a store that appeared to have rabies, many may be left wondering what to do if they are ever approached by an animal who may have this condition.

The calls come in on Sunday.

The Department of Natural Resources said rabies is a virus that’s transmitted via bodily fluids. It is transmitted through mammals and mostly attacks the central nervous system.

The body of the animal with rabies normally ends up shutting down over time. However, some animals are more susceptible to rabies such as bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes.

Drew Zellmer, a wildlife biologist with Wildlife Resources Division at the Department of Natural Resources, said there is one major sign to see if an animal has rabies.

“It actually attacks the salivary glands as well,” Zellmer said. “So, what ends up happening is that from the virus impacting on the salivary glands, it causes excessive salivating. That’s what, I guess you would call foaming at the mouth. It’s just an increased production of saliva is what it is.”

Rabies medicine at a vet’s office. (WALB)

However, Zellmer said that is not the only sign that people should look out for.

“We get a fair amount of calls from people. They’re afraid, I should say of the fox they see out in the yard, or that raccoon that’s out in the yard,” Zellmer said. “They think that the only reason that it’s out in the daytime is because it’s rabid. That’s not necessarily the case. The other signs that you’ll see are poor body condition. So if you see an animal that’s obviously sick because it’s not grooming itself well or it’s not eating well, or drinking, you know that reflects on its body condition.”

Zellmer said another sign to look for is animals who approach humans and are not scared of them. Normally, he pointed out, animals have a pretty good fear of humans, so if an animal is approaching you erratically, and won’t leave you alone, that might be a sign.

Zellmer said if you have been bitten by what you believe to be a rabid animal, there are a few calls you should make.

“My first call would be to environmental health, and then they get in contact with us and at that point, we can, hopefully, secure the animal to submit it for testing,” Zellmer said.

Zellmer said rabies has a very low prevalence and is not extremely common. He added that people should enjoy nature and wildlife when they see it and only be alert when they see animals doing something extremely out of the ordinary.

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