Rabid Fox Dies On Payson Driveway

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A dead fox found on the driveway of a home in Payson Dec. 28 tested positive for the rabies virus.

This is the second case of fox rabies in Gila County since the new year, said Animal Control Officer Don Tanner.

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The Centers for Disease Control reported that foxes account for the majority of rabies cases in Arizona, although bats, coyotes, javelinas and raccoons also carry the virus.

Tanner was dispatched to 700 N. Graham Ranch Road, the home of Geraldine and Cornalnial Clifford, at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 28.

"The couple had two dogs," said Tanner. "One named Paco, a chow mix, and Moka, a German shepherd. Paco had been eating off the carcass of the fox."

Although Paco and Moka, according to the owners, were recently vaccinated for rabies, they are quarantined to the Clifford's 5-acre property for 45 days.

"If the dogs are not vaccinated, the state only allows two options," Tanner said. "If we have an animal that's returned positive or presumed infected, they require a 180-day quarantine in the pound or humane society. The second option is euthanization."

The Gila County Pound is the only facility in the county that accepts rabies quarantines, costing the pet owner $1,300.

"It's quite a difference between that and a $20 rabies vaccination," Tanner said.

The Centers for Disease Control reported that foxes account for the majority of rabies cases in Arizona, although bats, coyotes, javelinas and raccoons carry the virus too.

In 2005, Tanner said, a rabid-skunk epidemic swept through the state, leaving 165 confirmed cases of the disease.

While wild animals accounted for the vast majority of cases, two domestic cats tested positive for rabies.

"I highly recommend vaccinations for cats," Tanner said. "Even indoor cats."

Rabies, according to the CDC, is a viral disease found only in mammals. The virus enters the bloodstream via saliva, usually from a bite, and attaches to nerve endings. As the disease progresses, the virus works its way to the central nervous system where it replicates and attacks the salivary glands.

The advancing virus can cause wild animals to act tame, domestic pets to be aggressive and it can cause hallucinations, paralysis and death.

"Rabies is 100 percent fatal once symptoms occur," Tanner said.

Report animals that exhibit signs of rabies --octurnal animals out during the day, excessive saliva, and unusual vocalizations -- to the Payson Police Department, (928) 474-5177, or Payson Animal Control at (928) 474-1210.

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