Fox, possibly rabid, attacks puppy

Published 10:18 pm Thursday, August 1, 2013

A fox health officials suspect of being rabid bit a puppy Thursday in the Orchard Cove subdivision in North Suffolk, the Suffolk Health Department said in a news release.

The fox, which escaped after the attack, is “acting suspiciously” and could be rabid, officials said. Residents of the area are encouraged to keep pets indoors for the next few days, remain vigilant while outside and report any fox acting strangely to Suffolk Animal Control.

The puppy was not yet old enough to have been vaccinated against rabies, according to the news release from Jay Duell of the Suffolk Health Department. Therefore, it must be confined in strict isolation for 180 days or be euthanized.

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If the fox is rabid, it will die within a few days, Duell said in the release.

Rabies is transmitted when the saliva of an infected animal enters the body through an open wound or mucous membrane, such as with an animal bite.

“An animal exposure is a serious medical event, for which prompt evaluation and complete treatment is critical,” said Nancy Welch, health director for the Western Tidewater Health District. “Rabies is highly preventable if vaccine is given early and as recommended. 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 also is fatal in domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.

So far this year, there have been no confirmed cases of rabies in the city.

Area residents should take the following precautions to minimize risks to themselves, their animals and their communities:

  • Call Suffolk Animal Control at 514-7855 or Suffolk Health Department at 514-4751 if your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid.
  • Seek medical treatment promptly for any animal bite.
  • Do not approach wild or stray animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, cats and dogs.
  • Ensure all pet dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations. Dogs and cats more than 4 months old are required by state law to have current rabies vaccinations.
  • Confine your pets to your property.
  • Seal garbage containers with lids.