Rabies confirmed in dead fox

Published 10:45 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A fox that was killed by a dog in the Pughsville Road area on Saturday has tested positive for rabies, officials announced on Thursday.

The same fox is thought to have attacked and bitten two children in the Pughsville Road community the evening before it tangled with the dog.

Suffolk Health Department officials confirmed Thursday afternoon that the dead fox had rabies, a disease that is fatal to domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated against it and also is almost always fatal to humans who do not receive treatment for it before they exhibit symptoms.

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Thunder, a Shar-Pei that had been rescued from the animal shelter and thus had received its rabies vaccination and booster, was scratched by the fox during the fight on Saturday, city officials said earlier this week.

Since his vaccinations are up to date, Thunder is expected to be fine, though the dog is still to required to undergo a 45-day period of confinement, the Health Department said in a press release.

The children who were bitten both received immediate medical attention and will require a series of shots to treat the infection they received from the rabid fox’s bites.

“An animal exposure is a serious medical event, for which prompt evaluation and complete treatment is critical,” said Dr. Nancy Welch, health director for the Western Tidewater Health District. “Unfortunately, without preventive treatment, by the time someone develops symptoms of rabies, there is no cure, and the disease is fatal in almost 100 percent of cases.”

The Health Department had the following suggestions for protecting residents and their pets from rabies:

  • If your pet has contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact Suffolk Animal Control at 514-7855 or the Health Department at 514-4751.
  • Seek medical treatment immediately for any animal bite.
  • Do not approach wild or stray animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, cats or dogs.
  • Make sure all pet dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations. State law requires this of all dogs and cats more than 4 months old.
  • Confine your pets to your property.
  • Securely seal garbage cans with lids to avoid attracting wild animals to your property.