The Ocean County Health Department has announced that a fox, who bit a 4-year-old girl outside a home between Aldrich Road and West Connecticut Concourse in Jackson over the weekend, has tested positive for rabies.

She is now undergoing rabies post-exposure prophylaxis following the incident, the OCHD said in a statement.

Jackson Township Animal Control ended up taking the fox which died not long after the incident.

The fox appeared to have been canvassing that specific neighborhood of late as the OCHD received two other reports that occurred in that same neighborhood over the weekend.

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It's a time for education and preparedness for the summer months ahead to help prevent further attacks and knowing what to do if something happens.

“The OCHD is always reminding people of the potential for an animal to become infected with rabies and the potential for human exposures,” Dan Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator & Officer said in a statement. “But it does happen and that’s why it’s so important to remain vigilant especially in the warmer months when the potential for wildlife interactions with humans increase. It can be very tempting to try and assist or approach a wild animal that may appear in distress, injured – or even uncommonly friendly. However, a person should call animal control or the police and never approach or make contact with a wild animal demonstrating those signs.”

There were 2 reported rabies cases in Ocean County in 2020, both of which were raccoons.

Whether raccoon, fox, bat, cat, rabbit, deer and so on and so forth, you're once again being asked to stay away from these animals, especially strays because while you may feel they look innocent and nice, they could be carrying a plethora of illnesses including rabies.

So, virtually pet, not physically, and from a distance.

And make sure your own pets are vaccinated as well, especially against rabies.

“Not only do we have to protect ourselves from rabies, we need to protect our pets and to insure they are up-to-date with their rabies inoculations,” added Ocean County Commissioner Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. The Ocean County Animal Facilities holds free rabies clinics every other Wednesday by appointment only. Due to the pandemic many people may have skipped getting their pet vaccinated but if they did now is definitely the time to make an appointment.”

The Ocean County Health Department is also coming out with some helpful tips and advice on how to avoid unwanted wildlife interactions and potential rabies exposure.

  • Animal-proof your house and yard. Make sure all garbage is stored in animal-resistant containers.
  • Screen off vents to attics and other areas that could provide shelter for bats and squirrels.
  • Vaccinate your cat or dog against rabies. Unvaccinated pets can contract rabies from wildlife and can transfer the disease to humans. These are safe and effective vaccines to protect our personal pets such as dogs, cats and horses and farm animals like cattle, sheep and many others.
  • Never try to pet or approach a wild animal – even if it appears curious or friendly.

The OCHD also has tips on what to do if you're bitten by an animal.

  • Try and learn as much as you can about the animal. If it’s a known pet with a tag, contact the owner. If it’s a stray or wild animal, try to remember the last location you saw the animal and any distinguishing features or behavior that may be able to assist animal control officers in identifying and capturing the animal.
  • Wash your wound immediately with plenty of soap and water.
  • Contact your healthcare provider or hospital emergency department for care and consultation regarding the need for rabies preventative treatment.
  • Report the incident to the OCHD at 732-341-9700 extension 7515.

“Interactions with wildlife do happen suddenly, and sometimes, in the most unusual circumstances,” Regenye said. “Just be aware of your surroundings and environment and the type of wildlife that may call that area home. We all know how serious rabies can be, but unfortunately, it’s not always easy to determine if an animal is sick so it’s best to avoid any interactions and call animal control immediately especially if the animal is acting aggressive.”

The Northern Ocean County Animal Facility is located at 615 Freemont Avenue in Jackson.

You make a rabies vaccine appointment by calling 732-657-8086.

The Southern Ocean County Animal Facility is located at 360 Haywood Road in Manahawkin and their number is 609-978-0127.

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