Jackson County's First Case of Rabies

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Jackson County's first case of rabies for the year has just been reported. While the disease is not uncommon, Jackson County officials seem to be concerned about the case for a couple of reasons.

There are two abnormal things about the case, the animal that was involved and the time of year the illness was discovered.

Health officials say the Pittman Hill Road resident was doing yard work when a fox came up to her and grabbed her by the ankle. She says it bit her on the finger when she tried to shoo it off.

"We see about eight to 10 per year, and it's usually about raccoons. It's rare that we get a fox that's tested positive," said Bill Dean of Jackson County Health Department.

However, after being analyzed in Pensacola, the results have been confirmed and now neighbors in the area are on edge.

"I worry a little bit, especially with the kids playing outside a lot. We just moved to an area that's just been cleared off and we got quite a share of raccoons wandering in the yard, so it concerns me a little bit," said Traci Taylor.

The time of year the animal was found is also of concern. Health officials say they've noticed a pattern where rabid animals are discovered less during times of drought and are still unsure why.

Although residents should beware that just because rabid animals are not reported doesn't mean they're not out there.

The woman who got bit received her first treatment for rabies exposure. She started off with an injection of rabies immune globulin, which will give her immediate immunity. Then she will receive vaccine treatments for the next month.

County Health officials say if anyone thinks they have spotted a rabid animal, call their local health department. Don't shoot the animal in the head because an intact brain is needed to determine if it is rabid.