Rabies scare prompts alert in Marble Falls



Connie Swinney/The Highlander
A Marble Falls woman bitten by a rabid fox prompted Marble Falls Police Department's Animal Control Officer Jacey Ferguson to descend on neighborhoods to encourage residents to update pet vaccinations and beware of potential rabid wildlife.





By Connie Swinney
Staff Writer

A Marble Falls resident is undergoing rabies post-exposure treatments after being bit by a fox Sept. 4 that came into her yard and attacked a three-month-old puppy, officials said. The fox tested positive for the rabies virus, which also prompted a public alert.

“She does have bites. It's considered an exposure,” Marble Falls Animal Control Officer Jacey Ferguson said.

The incident occurred around 5:30 p.m. that evening when a fox entered a residential property where at least two puppies were present, the report stated. The fox began attacking one of the puppies.

The resident attempted to intervene, grabbed the puppy and ran to the door for safety as the wild critter pursued her and bit her on the leg, Ferguson continued.

Immediately following the incident, the fox – which was killed on the scene – underwent a rabies test which confirmed the presence of the virus.

“The puppies were not old enough for vaccinations so the one that was attacked had to be put down. By state law, if they're not old enough to vaccinate or quarantine, the best option for them is to euthanize,” Ferguson said of the exposed pet. “The other puppy I believe they're discussing with rabies control authority . . . on doing a 120-day quarantine.”

The victim is receiving post-exposure treatments due to the potentially lethal nature of the virus. Others who were present during the attack opted for pre-exposure prevention treatment.

In the days after the incident, Ferguson descended on neighborhoods in the 300 block of Sixth Street and the 400 and 500 blocks of Avenue B where the report originated.

“I'm going to quite a few residences; handing them physically the papers, the notice, about the rabid fox with all the precautions,” she said. “This is the first one (rabies report) I have had this summer. It's really surprising.”

Since December, the Marble Falls Police Department has received two other rabid animal reports. Wildlife susceptible to rabies infection include raccoons, skunks and bats as well as foxes.

“This is the end of cub season for foxes and kit season,” Ferguson said. “Also, they're locating dens, getting closer to den season which would be going into the winter.”

Signs of a potential rabies-infected animal include wildlife:

• Behaving like a domesticated pet;

• Attempting to socialize and be friendly;

• Appearing drunk, stumbling around and atypical behavior.

Residents are cautioned to:

• Update pet vaccinations;

• Avoid feeding or approaching wildlife;

• Avoid leaving pet food out unattended which attracts wildlife.

Authorities ask residents to notify them if you see animals acting out of the ordinary. Contact the police department at 830-693-3611.

To read more, pick up the Sept. 10 issue of The Highlander, the newspaper of record for the Highland Lakes. To subscribe to the newspaper, call 830-693-4367, or to subscribe to the E-edition click here.


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