AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — A rabid fox attacked a person in Augusta County earlier this month, and health officials want the public to be aware.
Jackson County health officials say a fox they recently collected has tested positive for rabies. (MGN)
According to a statement from the Central Shenandoah Health District, a person in the area of Hildebrand Church Rd., off of Rt. 254 west of Crimora, was attacked by an unprovoked fox on Sunday, May 10.
A family member tells WHSV that a 7-year-old child hopped in a vehicle and was bitten around 10 times by a fox.
According to the family member, the child and his family were heading to a drive-in church service for Mother's Day. She said another family member went to look for the fox while someone else called police to try to get assistance.
She says as the person on the phone was directed to call a trapper and then directed to other people around Augusta County to have someone come out, another member of the family found the fox and killed it with a borrowed rifle. She told WHSV no law enforcement member ever arrived to assist.
They then put the fox on ice and called the health department in the morning.
The fox tested positive for rabies when the health department ran a necropsy on it.
The district says anyone in the community who may have come into contact with the saliva of a fox in that area around the same time could have been exposed to rabies and should receive medical evaluation as soon as possible.
The same is true for any pets that may have come into contact with the fox.
Rabies transmission requires contact between a rabid animal's saliva or central nervous system tissue with a fresh wound or a mucous membrane like the eye, mouth, or nose.
One rabies symptoms begin, the disease is 100% fatal, but it can be easily prevented if treatment begins immediately after exposure.
Everyone is encouraged to vaccinate their pets to protect them, family members, loved ones and the community at large from rabies. In fact, not only is it encouraged, it's required by Virginia law.
In addition to keeping pets vaccinated and keeping vaccinations current, health district officials say to take these steps to protect family members and pets from rabies:
• Avoid contact with and never approach wild animals, such as raccoons and skunks, or stray cats and dogs, particularly if it is behaving oddly or if it is seen in the daylight. These animals are the main carriers of rabies in the eastern United States.
• Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs. Feral or unknown cats and dogs may also carry rabies. Report bites or scratches from these animals to your physician or the Health Department.
• Report stray animals to your local animal control agency
• Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home
• Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.
• If you are bitten, scratched, or licked by any of these animals, seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is fatal to both animals and humans once symptoms begin, but it can be prevented in humans if they receive vaccine and medication soon after exposure.
If a wild animal bites or interacts with a domestic animal, you should contact your local health department an animal control and take the pet to a veterinarian immediately.
For more information, or if you have questions about a possible exposure, visit vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/ or call the Central Shenandoah Health District at 540-332-7830