Fox tests positive for rabies

Published 11:00 pm Friday, December 14, 2012

From Staff Reports

Suffolk News-Herald

The Suffolk Health Department has confirmed the city’s second case of rabies in less than a month.

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Officials announced on Friday that they had received positive confirmation of the potentially deadly disease in a fox that had been killed by a dog in the Kings Fork Road area.

The dog had not been vaccinated against rabies, according to a press release from the health department, and therefore faced either euthanasia or a strict, 180-day isolation period.

Health officials announced on Nov. 30 that a skunk with rabies had been killed by a dog in the Pioneer Road area. That dog was current on its rabies vaccination and required only a 45-day observation period because of the protection the vaccine had given it, they stated in a press release.

Exposure of humans or animals 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.

“Rabies is highly preventable if vaccine is given early and as recommended,” Dr. Nancy Welch, health director for the Western Tidewater Health District, said in an emailed announcement.

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

State law calls for all dogs and cats more than four months old to be vaccinated against rabies.

Welch offered the following advice to protect residents and their pets:

  • If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, call Suffolk Animal Control at 514-7855 or the Suffolk Health Department at 514-4751.
  • Seek medical treatment promptly for any animal bite to ensure appropriate and timely evaluation and treatment.
  • Do not approach wild or stray animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, cats and dogs.
  • Confine your pets to your property.
  • Securely seal garbage containers with lids.