Fox tests positive for rabies

Published 10:42 pm Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Suffolk Health Department was notified on Wednesday that a fox from the Pitchkettle Road area of Suffolk tested positive for rabies.

In this case, the fox ran up to and grabbed the pants of a child, according to a news release from the health department. The child was not injured.

The family dog then briefly fought with the fox before the owner was able to kill the fox. The dog was vaccinated and will receive a booster shot and be under a 45-day confinement period.

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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, the press release stated.

An animal exposure can be a serious medical event for which prompt evaluation and complete treatment is critical. Rabies is highly preventable if the vaccine is given early and as recommended. However, 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 infected domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.

Dr. Nancy Welch, health director for the Western Tidewater Health District, emphasizes the following recommendations for Suffolk residents:

  • If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact 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. All animal exposures must be taken seriously.
  • 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. Consult your veterinarian, Suffolk Animal Control or the Suffolk Health Department if you have questions.
  • Confine your pets to your uproperty.
  • Securely seal garbage containers with lids.

State law requires all dogs and cats over the age of 4 months to be vaccinated against rabies.