A second wild animal from the Cave Creek area has turned up rabid, a state official said Monday.
A gray fox found next to Spur Cross Trail and brought to health officials Friday tested positive for rabies, said Craig Levy, manager of the state’s Vector-Borne Disease Section.
Earlier this month, a rabid bobcat bit and clawed a dog at a Cave Creek ranch about 10 miles south of the trail, officials said.
A woman on horseback passed the dying fox about three miles from the trailhead Jan. 19, Levy said. When the woman and her fellow riders saw the fox on their return trip, she dismounted and killed it with a rock because it appeared to be suffering, Levy said.
"The fox, from what I understand, did approach her and did try to grab her pant leg," he said. "But it certainly didn’t get her. I think the thing was very weak at that point."
She left the carcass but returned for it Friday after learning about the rabid bobcat.
"And much to our surprise, it was still testable," Levy said, adding that wild animals typically feed on carcasses out in the open for several days.
He said she is not believed to have been exposed to the disease because she used precautions before bagging the animal, such as not touching its head. Rabies is spread through saliva.
The disease kills its subjects by destroying the brain.
"Just imagine an animal becoming increasingly mentally impaired," said Randy Babb, with the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Mesa office.
Once exposed, a person must undergo a series of shots to prevent the disease. A rabies advisory has been posted at all trailheads in the Cave Creek area, Levy said. Babb and Levy said no one should approach wild animals or attempt to carry a suspicious carcass back to authorities. Instead, call Game and Fish at (800) 352-0700