From the Harford County Health Department:
The Harford County Health Department appreciates the well-intentioned and successful animal-rescue efforts of the Joppa-Magnolia volunteer fire fighters. However exposure to rabies, a deadly viral disease, remains a critical consideration in these instances, since primary rabies vector species (including raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats) are regarded as having the highest risk level of exposure to humans and domesticated animals.
When there is confirmed contact and the vector species is available for testing, the protocol is to euthanize the animal and submit it to the State Laboratory at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for rabies analysis. The greater concern in incidents such as this, is less about the animal than for public health and safety. If this fox is determined to be rabid the Harford County Health Department will conduct risk assessments of all firefighters that possibly had contact. Although it appears that none of the volunteer fire fighters was bitten or scratched, a slight risk of exposure from touching or handling an animal that is rabid still exists.
The euthanized fox pup was collected from Phoenix Wildlife Rescue at 12:30pm. In this particular case, the wildlife rehabilitator indicated that the fox was suffering from hydrocephaly, also known as water on the brain. This apparently caused the animal to have discomfort and cry out. She also indicated that this condition might have led the mother fox to abandon the pup.
The Health Department has partnered with the Joppa-Magnolia Fire Department for over 30 years to provide low cost rabies vaccination and their clinic routinely vaccinates the greatest number of animals. The Department wishes to reiterate how cooperative and enjoyable this relationship with them is, and to acknowledge their great dedication to the well-being of the community. However, for the protection of all concerned, it is best for wildlife professionals to handle these situations. If their staff were to engage in this sort of activity in the future, the Health Department recommends limiting the handling of the animal to one individual wearing heavy turn-out gear to protect against direct contact, and that the animal is isolated from exposure to other people and animals until secured.