Hiker in Saguaro NP East nearly bitten by fox, rabies suspected

Hiker in Saguaro NP East nearly bitten by fox, rabies suspected
(Source: AZ Game and Fish Department)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - If you are planning a hike this weekend or anytime soon, be on the lookout for a possibly rabid gray fox.

According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Saguaro National Park a hiker was nearly bitten by a fox on the Miller Creek Trail at Saguaro National Park East on Wednesday, April 4.

The gray fox bit the pant leg of the hiker, among a party of three about 1.3 miles up the trail, according to the news release. The hikers had previously encountered the fox but had driven it away. The victim was evaluated for possible exposure to rabies, but the bite apparently did not break the skin.

This as the second such incident at SNP East this year. So far this year, there have been 51 confirmed cases of rabies in Arizona, 34 in southeast Arizona with foxes, skunks and bats being the most common carriers.

"Avoid contact with and don't approach wildlife that is behaving abnormally or appears to be ill. If you believe that you see a rabid animal, call us at 1-623-236-7201," said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson, in the news release. "In addition, avoid touching any dead wildlife that you may find, and keep your pets away from them as well."

Vega added that pets such as dogs and cats, as well as livestock like horses, should be regularly vaccinated for rabies.  In addition, dogs should be on leashes when outdoors, and a veterinarian consulted if any domestic animals are injured by wildlife, he said. Unvaccinated animals exposed to wildlife with rabies must undergo a four-month quarantine.

Approximately 15 people are exposed to rabid animals in Arizona annually. People who are exposed must receive vaccine and anti-rabies serum treatment to prevent infection.  Prevention information is available at: http://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/rabies/#prevention

For more information, please contact Mark Hart at (520) 388-4445 or MHart@azgfd.gov

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