APACHE JUNCTION, AZ - Pinal County health officials are warning about a growing rabies outbreak in gray foxes near the Superstition Mountains.
“We want to remind people to keep their dogs leashed, vaccinate pets if they’re overdue, don’t feed or approach wild animals,” said Graham Briggs, manager of the Infectious Diseases & Epidemiology department at Pinal County Public Health.
Since November, Briggs said there have been five lab-confirmed rabid fox cases in the county.
In one case last month, a diseased fox attacked several people outside their Apache Junction homes before it was killed, Briggs explained.
“A fox shouldn’t be curious about a human," Briggs said. "The natural behavior for a fox is to hide or run away if a human approaches.”
Warning signs have been posted for hikers in Lost Dutchman State Park and at trailheads in the Tonto National Forest.
According to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services, there were five confirmed rabid fox cases statewide in 2016, 33 in 2017, and, with the latest case confirmed Tuesday in Pinal County, at least two in 2018.
The Arizona Game & Fish Department asks you report any wild animal exhibiting erratic or aggressive behavior by calling (623) 236-7201.
The agency also suggested these tips:
Always keep people and pets away from wild animals
Never pick up, touch or feed wild or unfamiliar animals — even if they do not appear sick or aggressive