Town Officials say recent events highlight the need to remain vigilant against rabies. On Monday, September 14, 2009 a fox chased a person and attacked a dog in the area of 117 South Snow Geese Drive in Duck. The fox’s aggressive behavior was symptomatic of rabies. Nobody was bitten by the fox. However, since the dog was unvaccinated and due to the dog’s advanced age, the owners decided that the dog could not endure the six month quarantine required after an attack by an animal that is possibly rabid, and the dog was subsequently euthanized.
Dare County Animal Control have set traps in the area which are being monitored by Animal Control personnel and the Town of Duck Police Department. In no case should the public approach these traps or attempt to handle or capture wild animals that may carry rabies.
This is the second such incident within the Town of Duck. A little over a month ago, a rabid fox was identified in the area of Four Seasons Lane. No one was bitten by the fox but because of this behavior, the fox was sent for examination by State officials who confirmed that the fox was rabid.
Rabies in wildlife is common in the southeastern part of the United States. The majority of rabies cases occur in such wild mammals as raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Domestic animals account for less than 10% of all reported rabies cases. The viral disease is transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.
The Dare County Department of Public Health offers the following public health guidelines to keep all Dare County residents and their domestic animals free of rabies:
• Be a responsible pet owner. Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats, and ferrets. This requirement is important not only to keep pets from getting rabies, but also to provide a barrier of protection for owners, in case the animal is bitten by a rabid wild animal.
• Keep pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. Puppies and kittens must be protected until they are old enough to be vaccinated. They should be supervised when outdoors. If a pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
• Anyone scratched or bitten by a wild or domestic animal should seek medical attention immediately and report the incident to local animal control.
• Prevent exposure to rabies by avoiding direct contact with unfamiliar or stray animals. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
• Know the signs of an animal that may have rabies. A wild animal would normally avoid contact with humans but often becomes more aggressive and may approach humans it is infected.
• Enjoy wild animals (raccoons, skunks, foxes) from afar. Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
• Teach children never to handle or try to pet unfamiliar or stray animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
• Spay or neuter pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.
• Call animal control to remove any stray animals from the neighborhood. They may be unvaccinated and could be infected by rabies.
• Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they might come in contact with people and pets.
If an animal has bitten you, thoroughly wash the wound with a soap and water and call a doctor immediately. If there is a chance you may have been exposed to rabies, or if the animal is caught and it tests positive for rabies, you will need rabies post exposure treatment (PET). You cannot wait to see if you get sick, because there is no known cure once the disease develops.
All unusual animal behavior should be reported to animal control at (252) 480-4047 or contact the Town of Duck Police Department at (252) 261-1112 for assistance in having an animal collected and tested for rabies.
For more information about protecting yourself, your family, and your pets from rabies, contact the Dare County Department of Public Health at (252) 475-5003 or North Carolina Division of Public Health’s rabies website at www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/rabies.html.