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Rabid Fox Suspected Of Biting Two People Caught And Undergoing Testing

By Ran Northam Posted March 20, 2013 at 9:54 pm
CHAPEL HILL - Orange County Animal Services director Bob Marotto says officials resumed the search Wednesday for a rabid fox after two people were bit late Tuesday.

“A gentleman who was, if I’m not mistaken, trimming some bushes when the fox approached him and apparently scaled the ladder a little bit and bit him,” Marotto says.

He says that occurred sometime Tuesday afternoon.

Chapel Hill Police Sgt. Josh Mecimore says the second report was that of a fox bite Tuesday night in the area of Southern Village.

“Around (8:00 p.m.), a woman who lives in Southern Village went to UNC Hospitals,” Sgt. Mecimore says. “I don’t have any information on the victim in this situation’s condition, just that she went to UNC Hospitals for treatment referencing of a fox bite.”

Officials searched the area Tuesday night but came up empty. Marotto says they returned to the area Wednesday morning to resume the search. A fox was captured just before noon Wednesday and impounded after it was killed. Results from tests are expected later this week.

In response to the report of the fox, the Chapel Hill Police issued a few safety tips for any time a situation like this occurs. Sgt. Mecimore says this incident is a good reminder that this could occur at any time and the number one thing to remember is to keep yourself and others away from any suspicious animals.

“We would just ask that anyone who sees it calls 911 and don’t try to go near it,” Sgt. Mecimore says. “Do whatever you can to stay as far away from it as you can so that you don’t risk being bitten yourself.”

By North Carolina law, dogs, cats, and ferrets older than four months must be vaccinated at all times and must wear their rabies vaccination tag.

While there could be other affected animals in the area, or, while Animal Services is relatively sure that it is, the fox that was collected may not be the same one that attacked. Anyone who sees a suspicious animal is asked to call 911 or Orange County Animal Services.

Orange County Animal Services
(919) 942-PETS (7387)

Tips From the Chapel Hill Police Department

  • Be sure to make sure that everyone is aware of this situation and does not take ANY chances.
  • Be sure your pets are secured inside and only taken out on leash.
  • Always keep your pet’s rabies vaccine up to date.
  • Keep your pet’s rabies vaccination certificate in an accessible location.
  • If your pet is bitten by another known domestic animal, consult your veterinarian immediately and ask the owner to provide proof of rabies vaccination. If the other animal is not up to date on his rabies vaccine or is a wild animal, it is advisable to report the incident to your local animal control authority to ensure that the animal is quarantined appropriately.
  • If your pet comes in direct contact with any wild animal, even if no wounds are evident, consult your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian may recommend a rabies booster.
  • If you are scratched or bitten by any animal, either wild or domestic, consult your physician immediately. If the animal is a pet, ask the owner to provide proof of rabies vaccination.
  • Avoid direct contact with wildlife, dead or alive. Never touch any wildlife with your bare hands. If you find a sick or injured wild animal, call your local animal control agency or humane society and let the experts handle it.
  • Avoid animals displaying unnatural behavior. Wild animals that are unusually friendly or displaying other unnatural behaviors may have the rabies virus.
  • Discourage contact between pets and wildlife. Don’t let your pets roam or encourage them to interact with unfamiliar domestic or wild animals.
  • Feed your pets indoors. Leaving food outside often attracts stray dogs, cats and wildlife to your yard.
  • Animal-proof your trash. Make sure your trash lids are locked, and don’t leave bags of garbage outside the cans.
  • Prevent wild animals from getting into the house. Prune tree branches that overhang the roof. Keep screens on windows and cover small openings, such as chimneys, furnace ducts and eaves.
  • Report all stray animals to animal control. Stray animals may not be vaccinated for rabies. They also run a high risk of exposure to wild animals which carry the disease.
  • Give your child some guidelines to follow. Do not frighten young children, but make sure they learn some basic rules about protecting themselves from strange or unfamiliar animals.
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