The Allegheny County Health Department is warning residents to be wary of foxes and other potentially rabid animals around your homes.
The alert comes after two men were bitten and another scratched by foxes in 3 separate incidents this month. Health Department spokesman Guillermo Cole says one man was bitten by a fox as he was cutting brush in a wooded area near his home. Another man was bitten while he was washing his car in his driveway, and a third man was scratched while trying to break up a fight between a fox and his dog.
Cole says the foxes escaped and were unavailable for testing to confirm whether they had rabies, so the men are being treated with anti-rabies vaccine as a precaution and not expected to develop rabies. A fourth fox found dead on a road and not involved in these incidents has tested positive for rabies.
Cole warns residents to be aware of creatures in the environment whenever outdoors and to frequently look around for wild animals, particularly foxes and raccoons, which may be infected with the rabies virus.
When you see a wild animal, don’t go near it and chances are it will go away. If the animal looks threatening, slowly back away and go indoors or to a protected area. If it stays around, call your local animal control service, the police or the Game Commission. Cole says if you are ever bitten, scratched, or otherwise exposed to saliva from a fox, raccoon or any other animal, wash the contact area with soap and water, seek emergency medical treatment and call the Allegheny County Health Department to report the incident.
Rabies is almost always fatal when exposures go untreated. The anti-rabies vaccine is highly effective when given promptly after an exposure.
Cole advises if your pet is ever involved in a fight with another animal, never get into the middle of it and don't use your bare hands to separate them. If your pet gets another animal’s saliva on its body or in its mouth, handle your pet with gloves, bathe it carefully with soap and water, and call your vet for advice.