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Released by: Health Services
For Immediate Release

Wild Fox Tested Positive for Rabies

Santa Rosa, CA  –  October 24, 2016  –  During the week of October 17, a fox in the Sea Ranch area of Sonoma County tested positive for rabies. Aggressive behavior prompted authorities with state Fish & Wildlife to capture the fox and pursue testing for rabies. Individuals with known exposure to the fox were referred for medical evaluation and care, including post-exposure preventive treatment. Several domestic animals with known exposure have received booster vaccinations and have been quarantined by Sonoma County Animal Services. 

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that can be prevented by avoiding contact with animals that may be rabid. If a person has significant exposure, getting vaccinated right away can also prevent disease. Rabies can be spread from the bite of a rabid animal, or when the animal’s saliva contacts a person’s mouth, eyes or an open sore. 

“Rabies is a serious disease and the public should take all precautions when encountering an aggressive animal. However, with proper safeguards the risk to an individual or their family is low,” stated Dr. Karen Holbrook, Sonoma County Deputy Health Officer. “Make sure your pets and domestic animals are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations, and keep children and pets from approaching or touching wild or strange animals.”

Rabies poses a real threat, especially to unvaccinated domestic animals. This incident should serve as a reminder for pet owners to ensure their animals are up-to-date with rabies vaccination. Rabies occurs throughout California including Sonoma County. Bats are the animal most commonly found to have rabies. Skunks, foxes, raccoons and unvaccinated domestic animals can also develop rabies. In Sonoma County approximately four animals per year have tested positive for rabies. Human rabies cases in the United States are rare. 

Behavioral signs of rabid animals, wild or domestic, may include staggering, restlessness, aggression, a change of the tone of their barks or growls, or choking. Passive animals sometimes become fierce and aggressive. Nocturnal animals sometimes appear during the day.  

If you or a loved one are bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal or an animal suspected of having rabies, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and then seek medical attention. Ask your medical provider to report and coordinate with Sonoma County Disease Control. Your medical provider should call (707) 565-4567. 

Take these steps to protect your family and pets from rabies: 

  • Make sure your pets and domestic animals are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations;
  • Keep children and pets from approaching or touching wild or strange animals.
  • Make sure that any openings to your home such as crawl spaces, chimneys, attics, porches or garages are sealed or covered with thick wire screen to prevent entry by wild animals.
  • Discourage wild animal foraging by not leaving pet food outside and by securing garbage cans.
  • Avoid feeding, touching or housing stray or wild animals.
    • If you see a domestic animal (i.e. cat, dog) that is sick, injured, dead, orphaned or behaving oddly, leave it alone and contact Sonoma County Animal Services: (707) 565-7100. 
    • If you see a wild animal (i.e. fox, skunk, raccoon), that is sick, injured, dead, orphaned or behaving oddly, leave it alone and contact Fish and Wildlife: (707) 944-5500 or after hours 911.  Do NOT handle the animal yourself.

 For additional information on rabies, please visit:

 http://www.sonoma-county.org/shelter/rabies.htm

 http://www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/discond/Pages/rabies.aspx

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Contact Information

Communications Manager
County of Sonoma
Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Contact us by Phone
Address
Health Services Administration
3313 Chanate Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
38.46875, -122.708432
 

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