A rabid, adult gray fox was recently found in a remote area of rural Jamul, county officials announced on November 5.
Dr. Gundula Dunne, veterinary medical officer for the County of San Diego, says, “The fox was acting abnormally on private property when it was discovered and reported.” The sick fox was picked up by an animal control officer but later died en route to Project Wildlife.
“It is rare to have a rabid fox in Southern California or even California, in general,” says Dunne. “We do not have the fox type of rabies in California — foxes found to be rabid are typically ‘spillover’ cases from bats.”
The last time a rabid fox was found in the county, in June of 2000, three domestic dogs were exposed. In the Jamul fox case, there was no apparent human or domestic animal exposure. (The brain matter of the fox was sent to a lab for additional testing.)
Foxes and other wildlife are often attracted by readily available food sources, such as pet food. Dunne advises pet owners to remove pet food from outdoor areas from dawn to dusk. “Ideally, food should be offered to a pet and if not eaten, it should be removed in a timely manner to prevent wild animals from eating it — day or night.”
Dunne advises residents to “avoid animals acting strangely, especially those that act unusually tame, aggressive, or paralyzed.” She adds, “Be suspicious of daytime activity in raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats, which normally come out only at night.”