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Trenton man bitten by rabid Red Fox

James “J.R.” Coarsey of Trenton, was at work last Thursday, Dec. 16th, at his family’s business, Coarsey Fiberglass Unlimited, when he was bitten by a red fox in South Chiefland.
Coarsey said, he was seated on the floor cutting a name into a fiberglass cooler with a Dremel tool when a red fox bit him on the arm. Coarsey reported that the fox latched onto his arm and would not let go. He jumped up and started slinging his arm up and down trying to shake the fox off. His Uncle Ricky Coarsey was in the shop with him at the time and was also trying to help. James finally slung the fox off. “I was slinging him all around and he finally came off taking about a thumbnail size chunk of my arm with him.” He went on to say that the fox hung around the shop for a short time, but they did not have anyway to disable him. The fox eventually ran away.
Chiefland Police Sgt. Fronz Macy said, on Monday, Dec. 20th, that their department received three calls about the fox throughout the morning of Dec. 16th. Wilbert Gamble, a Chiefland resident made the first call to the Chiefland Police Department and reported seeing a red fox that was acting strangely at 8:15 a.m.
Then the Coarsey fox bite was reported to the Police Department. Sometime during the morning the Department reported the fox incident to Levy Animal Control, FWC and the Florida Department of Health. The Health Department advised that if they found the fox they should not shoot it in the head, because the head would need to be sent off for testing.
Around 1:15 p.m., R.L. Gent who lives in the very south end of Chiefland near Hwy. 19, called in and reported a fox had chased him into the house. Two officers including Sgt. Macy and Police Chief Scott Anderson, responded to the call. When they arrived the fox ran under the home. After some effort, they were able to coax the fox out and Chief Anderson killed the fox. Sgt. Macy reported that the Health Department came and picked up the fox to be tested for rabies.
Wesley Asbell of the The Florida Department of Health, reported that the red fox killed at the Gent home did indeed have rabies. Asbell stated that it has been his experience that foxes are very aggressive when they have rabies. The number of cases in this area in the last few weeks is usual according to Asbell. “Generally we have more cases around May than this time of year, this outbreak kind of surprised us,” Asbell said. So far the Health Department has tested a fox from the South Chiefland area and a raccoon from the Bronson area, found near the race track. There have been a total of six reported cases.
James Coarsey reported that he began treatment the day he was bitten. The first treatment consisted of about 15 shots to his arm, in around the bite area. He will have to go back for additional shots over a period of time.
Asbell said, the Health Department was trying to get the word out that citizens of this area should avoid wild animals and they should make sure their pets have current rabies vaccines. Also, if someone sees an animal acting unusual they should report it to the Health Department and law enforcement.