Another rabid fox found

Published 10:51 pm Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another fox from the Pughsville area has tested positive for rabies, the Suffolk Health Department learned on Wednesday.

The fox fought with two dogs earlier this month. One of the dogs had been vaccinated against rabies, so it will undergo a 45-day confinement period. However, the other dog had not been vaccinated, so it must either be euthanized or be placed in strict isolation for 180 days.

This is the sixth wild animal to test positive for rabies in Suffolk this year. There were only three positive rabies tests in Suffolk all last year.

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Dr. Nancy Welch, acting director for the Western Tidewater Health District, said earlier this month she does not believe the amount of rabies among wild animals is increasing but only that the number of exposures is increasing.

“We’re having increased opportunities of exposure,” she said. “I’m sure there’s no change whatsoever in the amount of rabid animals in the community. The only way we find out about it is when we have these exposures.”

Exposure of humans to rabies occurs when the saliva of an infected animal enters the body through an open wound or mucous membrane, such as with an animal bite.

Without preventive treatment, by the time a human develops symptoms of rabies, there is no cure and the disease is fatal in almost every case.

The disease is also fatal in domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.

Welch recommends the following steps for Suffolk residents to take in protecting themselves and their pets from rabies:

  • If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact the Suffolk Animal Control at 514-7855 or the Suffolk Health Department at 514-4751.
  • Seek medical treatment promptly for any animal bite.
  • Do not approach wild or stray animals, especially bats, foxes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, cats and dogs.
  • Ensure all pet dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations. State law requires all dogs and cats over the age of four months to be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Confine your pets to your property.
  • Securely seal garbage containers with lids.