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Bedford County four-year-old recovering after being bitten by rabid fox

Ryliegh Willow Robb in high spirits during treatment on Friday. Robb was bit by a rabid fox in...
Ryliegh Willow Robb in high spirits during treatment on Friday. Robb was bit by a rabid fox in Bedford County on Tuesday.(Will Thomas)
Published: May. 7, 2022 at 6:18 PM EDT
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BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Friday afternoon, Billy Robb spoke with us from the delivery room where his son was born Thursday. But just days before, he received a call that would worry any parent.

“Pa-Pa called me up in a panic, I couldn’t even understand him, he wasn’t making much sense,” said Robb, who was at work at the time.

What Robb’s dad was trying to tell him was that a fox had bitten his four-year-old daughter, Ryleigh Willow Robb, outside his home in the area of Stone Mountain Road in Bedford County.

“It made a mad dash for him, jumped over the railing, ran straight for Ryleigh. Dad’s friend Amy was able to pick Ryleigh up as the thing jumped up and grabbed her on the leg, tried knocking her off; it grabbed her again.”

The family sprang into action by calling 911.

“There we went to the hospital, she had to get injections in all her bite wounds.”

It wasn’t until Thursday that the Virginia Department of Health called them to say they found out the fox had rabies.

”That was a whole other level of scary.”

But rabies infections aren’t very common in the surrounding areas, according to Officer Brandon Schoonover, who works on the animal control unit at Roanoke County Police.

“The number of positive cases are few and far between. I can’t say it never happens but they are usually in the single digits.”

But just like Robb’s family did, it’s always important to call it in if you come in contact with a wild animal.

”If you believe that you were exposed you need to seek medical attention immediately and the same with domesticated animals.”

The good news is Ryleigh is doing just fine now and only had to walk down a couple floors for her treatment Friday as the family celebrated their newest addition.

Robb just wants to raise awareness to other parents about being safe and keeping an eye on their kids.

For more information about rabies, you can find VDH’s press release below:

“Everyone should take commonsense measures to protect themselves and their domestic animals from rabies. Pet owners should keep their pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. Virginia law requires that all dogs and cats four months of age and older be vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian, and that vaccinations be kept current. It is important to avoid contact with wild or stray animals, and parents should be sure that their children are taught to not touch, pet or otherwise handle unknown animals.

Additional steps that can be taken to prevent rabies in people and pets include:

 Do not feed stray animals. Avoid wild animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks. Feed your pets indoors and do not let them wander.

 Teach children to avoid contact with wild animals and pets they are not familiar with.

 Do not handle sick, injured or dead animals. Contact a licensed wildlife rehabber if you have concerns about sick or injured wildlife.

 Keep wild animals out of homes by capping chimneys with screens and blocking openings in attics, cellars and porches. Ensure trash cans have tight fitting lids.

 Do not try to trap or handle stray and wild animals. If a bat is found indoors and may have had contact with someone, do not release it. Call your local animal control officer or health department to determine if the animal should be picked up and tested for rabies.

If you are bitten by a wild or stray animal do not panic. Wash the wound(s) thoroughly with warm soapy water and contact animal control, your doctor or the health department for further recommendation.”

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