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Health advisory issued after rabies found in Chatham County fox

Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2009

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Pittsboro, NC - The Chatham County Public Health Department is issuing an advisory for animal rabies to residents of Chatham County. On Saturday, May 16, 2009, a fox collected from northeast Chatham County tested positive for rabies.

Friday morning, May 15th, Chatham County Animal Control received a call from a resident in the New Hope Church Road vicinity of Northeast Chatham County that a fox had attacked her in her own yard. In spite of the resident's attempt to defend herself, the fox bit her on the Achilles tendon before her dog got the fox off of her. The dog attacked the fox but did not kill it. When Animal Control arrived, the fox was in the front yard. Officers were able to capture the fox alive.

The resident then had a neighbor drive her to seek medical attention. The fox was euthanized at the shelter and tested positive at the State Lab of Public Health in Raleigh Saturday morning. The resident started the post exposure rabies treatment upon her Friday visit to the hospital per the ED physician. The resident's dog was current on its rabies vaccination and will receive additional booster vaccinations with the resident's other dogs that were in the house at the time of the incident.

The identification of a rabid animal serves as a stark reminder of the potential for rabies in wild animals in North Carolina. Rabies is an infectious disease that affects the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord of animals and humans. It is caused by a virus present in the saliva of infected animals and is transmitted to pets and humans through contact with the live virus. Rabies is fatal to humans once symptoms appear.

The Chatham County Public Health Department advises residents to be aware of and to avoid contact with wildlife, particularly fox, raccoons, skunks and bats, as well as unvaccinated outdoor cats and kittens, and to assure that they have current valid rabies vaccinations for all their dogs and cats. Report contact between humans or pets and wildlife to Chatham County Public Health Department's Animal Control Division at 542-7203.

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