Rabid fox bit man in Bethlehem

Bethlehem, Pa. (May 18, 2012) – The Bethlehem Health Bureau announced today that a fox that attacked a man visiting the City has tested positive for rabies. The man was bitten May 16 on Stanford Road between Eaton Avenue and Shelbourne Drive. The fox was sent to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Laboratories for rabies testing.

A second man was also bitten by a fox May 16 in close proximity to the location of the other attack; it is unknown if it is the same fox.  Both victims are receiving rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.

In the past few weeks, there have been reports of daylight sightings of foxes and other wild animals in Bethlehem and throughout the LehighValley. Last week a fox attacked a woman in Allentown; the animal later tested positive for rabies.

Residents are reminded to contact police if they see a potentially rabid animal. The first sign of rabies is usually a change in an animal’s behavior. A rabid animal may become either abnormally aggressive or unusually tame. It may lose fear of people and become excited and irritable or appear friendly and affectionate. Adults should encourage children to immediately tell an adult if an animal has bitten them and to refrain from touching unfamiliar animals.

Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. The virus is transmitted through contact with the saliva of infected animals. Anyone bitten by a rabid animal or having contact with its saliva may need to receive immediate post-exposure rabies treatment. When administered before symptoms develop, the treatment is 100 percent effective. Once symptoms occur, however, the disease is almost always fatal.

Avoid close contact with unfamiliar and wild animals and keep family pets up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations. It is also important to not leave pets outside unattended and avoid leaving food outside for your pet or feeding stray and wild animals.

Anyone who may have been in contact with this fox or believes a family pet may have had contact should call the Bethlehem Health Bureau immediately at 610-865-7083 to assess the need for treatment.

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