Orange County records 12th rabies case

May 9, 2014 

HILLSBOROUGH Orange County Animal Services has received its 12th positive rabies test result of the year, as many cases as were reported in each of the past two years.

The case originated on Wednesday, when a Hillsborough resident was attacked on his property by a fox. The fox grabbed the man’s pant leg and was killed on sight without breaking the skin of the victim. Animal Control was called to remove the fox for testing.

The fox is believed to be the same fox involved in a bite incident Tuesday, in which a nearby resident was attacked and bitten by an aggressive fox that fled the scene afterward. The resident bitten on May 6 had already visited the emergency room and started post-exposure prophylaxis treatment by the time the fox was killed and reported the following day. The more recent victim did not have any breaks in the skin, but will be referred to a Communicable Disease Nurse from the Orange County Health Department to assess any possible risk of secondary rabies exposure.

“Prevention is the best measure for effective rabies control for pets and people alike,” said Bob Marotto, director of Animal Services. “Ensuring cats, dogs and ferrets are current on their rabies vaccinations is one of the most important responsibilities of a pet owner, since it can quite literally be the difference between life and death for their pet and protect the public from rabies.”

This is the first positive result of 2014 involving a fox. Foxes are not the dominant host species of rabies and contract it from a host species, most often the raccoon. This is known as the “spillover effect.” The other species that are most susceptible to getting rabies from raccoons are dogs and cats, groundhogs, and skunks.

The other host species of rabies in our own region and others is bats.

The next Low-Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinic will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 14, at the Animal Services Center in Chapel Hill. The cost is $10. Microchips will also be offered at this clinic for $25.

For more information, please call Orange County Animal Services at 919-942-7387.

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