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Foxes are very adaptable creatures, and this means that they can sometimes react in ways that we wouldn’t expect them to. Once upon a time, seeing a fox out and about during the day would have been a bad thing, indicative of the animal suffering with a disease, such as rabies. All mammals can become victim to the rabies virus, and this means that foxes can not only suffer with it themselves, but also carry it, and pass it on to other animals.
If a fox were in your garden and you let your dog out to play, there’s a good chance the two creatures would sniff each other out. There might be some playing, or maybe even some serious scuffling. If the fox were to bite your dog, and the fox were to be infected with the rabies virus, it could easily pass it along in its saliva. If the dog has not been vaccinated against the disease, the rabies virus would then be present in the dog, and then in your house. If the dog bites the child, the child could contract the rabies virus, and the same can be said for every mammal (and human) in your home.
There’s a small moral to this story — get your pets vaccinated.
Seeing a fox out during the day doesn’t mean that it has rabies, because foxes have learned to feed during the day. There is food available at all hours when humans are around, and foxes have learned and adapted to jump at that chance.
At the same time, seeing a fox out during the day doesn’t mean that the animal is NOT rabid or sick. With many diseases in animals, the earliest symptoms are vague and generic. In humans, early symptoms of rabies are very similar to a cold or the flu. You may have a few muscle aches and a headache, maybe even a fever and more serious problems later on. If we assume that the same can be said for an animal with the rabies virus, it won't be obvious that the creature is just feeling a little “under the weather”.
An animal can be infected with any disease and not show any symptoms. Rabies can hide for a few days, weeks, and even months before it rears its ugly head. The same can be said for a lot of other diseases too, including zoonotic conditions that humans can contract.
It will not be clear whether or not the fox is sick, so whether you come across one during the day or during the night, keep your distance and keep yourself safe.
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