UPDATE: Fox that bit 9-year-old at Chiricahua National Monument found, euthanized

UPDATE: Fox that bit 9-year-old at Chiricahua National Monument found, euthanized

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The fox in the March 28 incident at the Chiricahua National Monument was found on Thursday, March 29 and has been euthanized according to a news release from the National Park Service.

It was a joint effort by Arizona Game and Fish, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Cochise County Sheriff's Office to locate the fox, which was found early Thursday morning and has been put down.  According to the NPS news release the fox will be tested for rabies.

Mark Hart, spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said the 9-year-old boy was bit by the possibly rabid gray fox near the Chiricahua National Monument Wednesday afternoon.

AZGFD said the boy and his mother had just gotten out of their car at a monument when he was bit on the left calf by the fox, which had been acting aggressively before the attack.

"Avoid contact with and don't approach wildlife that is behaving abnormally," said Raul Vega, regional supervisor of Game and Fish in Tucson. "If you believe you see a rabid animal, call us immediately at 1-623-236-7201."

The boy was transported to Tucson Medical Center for treatment.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system, causing swelling of the brain. It is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.

Rabies can be prevented in persons who have come into contact or have been bitten by wild animals through prompt administration of anti-rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin.

In Arizona, the principal rabies hosts in Arizona are bats, skunks, and foxes. These animals carry their own distinct rabies virus variants or "strains."

When rabies activity within these animal groups increases, rabies can "spill over" into other mammal species, such as bobcats, coyotes, javelina, cats, dogs, horses, cows, etc. Rabid animals may appear disoriented or intoxicated, salivate heavily or appear thirsty.

Approximately 15 people are exposed to rabid animals in Arizona annually.

Acting Superintendent Matt Stoffolano reminds park visitors to be cautious around all wild animals and NEVER to feed, touch or approach wildlife.

Signs of rabid animals include aggressive behavior, appearing sick or tame, difficulty moving or paralysis, drooling or biting, and being active during abnormal hours.  Sightings of any animal exhibiting such behavior should be reported immediately.

Contact park staff at 520-824-3560 x9302 or Cochise County Animal Control at 520-432-8502.  Signs are posted around the park warning visitors to be alert to any animals that exhibit signs of rabies.

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