Fox in Greenwood tests positive for rabies

Delaware State News
Posted 9/8/21

GREENWOOD — Residents who live or spend time in the vicinity of Del. 16 between Judy and Century Farm roads are being advised of a positive case of rabies in a fox that bit a human Friday. 

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Fox in Greenwood tests positive for rabies

Posted

GREENWOOD — Residents who live or spend time in the vicinity of Del. 16 between Judy and Century Farm roads are being advised of a positive case of rabies in a fox that bit a human Friday. 

According to a news release from the Delaware Division of Public Health, the individual who was bit has begun treatment for rabies exposure.

Anyone who thinks they may have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with a fox in this area should immediately contact a health care provider or call DPH at 744-4995. An epidemiologist is available 24/7. 

Anyone in the area who thinks a fox might have bitten his/her pet should call a veterinarian for examination and treatment and report the exposure to the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

DPH recommends taking these steps to prevent rabies exposure:

  • All dogs, cats and ferrets 6 months and older are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by keeping them indoors and not letting them roam free. Those who do allow their cats to roam outdoors should vaccinate them.
  • Do not touch or otherwise handle wild or unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.
  • Do not keep your pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
  • Do not feed feral animals, including cats, as the risk of rabies in wildlife is significant.
  • Spaying or neutering pets may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and, thus, reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
  • Keep garbage securely covered.
  • Consider vaccinating livestock and horses, as well. DPH recommends consulting with a veterinarian about questions regarding whether your animals should be vaccinated against rabies.

Since Jan. 1, DPH has performed rabies tests on 136 animals, nine of which were confirmed to be rabid. That total includes one dog, one raccoon, one skunk, two cats, three bats and this fox. DPH only announces those rabies cases in which it is possible the animal had unknown contact with additional humans or pets, the release stated.

In 2020, DPH performed rabies tests on 121 animals, four of which were confirmed to be rabid, including one raccoon, one bat and two cats.

Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Infection can occur through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or if saliva from such an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or an opening in the skin. Rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms appear. 

If a human has been exposed, and the animal is unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends that people receive post-exposure prophylaxis treatment, a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.

The public is advised to contact the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control at 739-9912 or 735-3600 if they have encountered a wild animal behaving aggressively.  Staff will determine whether it is more appropriate to refer to a private wildlife-control operator. A listing of these operators can be found here

Calls after hours and on weekends can be made to 800-523-3336.

People should not throw items at the animal or make loud, banging noises, which may startle the animal and cause it to attack, according to the release. Instead, your initial response — if the animal is behaving in an aggressive manner or appears to be foaming at the mouth — should be to raise your hands above your head to make yourself appear larger, while slowly backing away from it. 

If the animal starts coming toward you, officials advise raising your voice and yelling sternly at it to get away. If all that fails, use any means to protect yourself, including throwing an object at the animal or trying to keep it away by using a long stick, shovel or fishing pole.

If you encounter a stray or feral domestic animal, such as a cat or dog, behaving aggressively, contact the Office of Animal Welfare at 255-4646.

If you encounter a sick or injured animal, residents are asked to contact DNREC at 739-9912 or 735-3600.

For more information on the DPH rabies program, visit here or call 866-972-9705 or 744-4995. 

For more information on rabies, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.