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Posted: July 23, 2013 5:10 p.m.

Rabid fox bites local man

Officials urge public to take precautions

After a Rockdale County man was bitten by a rabid fox last week, animal control officials are urging residents to take precautionary measures to protect themselves and their pets.

A resident of the Smyrna and McDaniel Mill Roads area killed a fox last Friday after being bitten in his yard. Rockdale Animal Control sent the animal to the state lab where it tested positive for rabies, leading the resident facing a round of post-exposure rabies vaccines.

“While Rockdale has become more populated in recent years, there are still pieces of wooded land but there are also houses close to each other so it just goes to show you animals can be anywhere, even in Olde Town,” Rockdale Animal Control director Ciji Baker said following the incident. He said this is the first time in his 11-year career, and only the second time in 20 years, that a rabid animal has bitten a human in Rockdale.

“We want to stress people getting their animals vaccinated for rabies and doing what they can to protect themselves,” he said. “If you see an animal walking in circles or trying to approach you like a dog does, contact animal control so we can remove the animal.”

Here are a few helpful tips in case a person or a pet encounters a wild animal:
•    If someone sees a wild animal in their yard and it is just walking by or runs off when it sees them, there is no need to panic. People are going to see wild animals.

•    If someone sees an injured or obviously sick wild animal such as a fox, raccoon, skunk, or coyote, then please contact Animal Control at 770-278-8403. Ciji Baker, who oversees the county’s animal shelter, said staff  will look into the situation for possible removal of the animal.

•    If someone has a wild animal trying to walk up to them like a dog would, or the wild animal is walking in circles, then that incident should be reported to Animal Control.

•    If someone sees or is aware of a wild animal that has bitten or scratched a person, or has come into contact with their pet, then that needs to be immediately reported to Animal Control.

Baker said that it is important for pet owners to get educated and be proactive about protecting their pets. “The best advice I can give is for people to keep their animals up to date on rabies shots,” he said.

If a person’s animal needs a current rabies shot, low-cost vaccines will be offered for $10 on Sat., July 20 from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at St. Simon’s Episcopal Church, 1522 Highway 138, Conyers, 30013.

Finally, Baker said the following simple steps can help prevent wild animal exposure:
-    Keep food put up inside and not outside
-    Keep tight lids on trash cans
-    If you have an outside animal that you fed don’t leave food out for it

For more information, contact Ciji Baker with Animal Control at 770-278-8403 or ciji.baker@rockdalecounty.org.

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