Catawba County’s first confirmed case of rabies in 2016 has been recorded after a fox attacked a child having a picnic with family near Maiden.
Catawba County Animal Services received a call from a residence east of Maiden, shortly before 5:30 p.m. May 27. The homeowner told Animal Services officers that he and his wife were having a picnic with two grandchildren when a fox suddenly ran up and began biting one of the children on both legs.
The fox broke off the attack when family members began screaming, but also began circling back toward the family. The man then shot and killed the fox. Animal Services officers collected the remains of the fox and sent them to the North Carolina Public Health Laboratory in Raleigh, which notified Catawba County on June 1 that the fox tested positive for rabies.
Animal Services officers advised the family to seek medical attention following the fox’s attack.
Catawba County Animal Services offered the following suggestions to reduce potential exposure to rabies:
▪ 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 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.
▪ Don’t keep wild animals as pets. Americans keep more than 4.7 million exotic animals, which cannot be vaccinated against rabies, as pets.
▪ 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.
Animal Services reminds pet owners that rabies is present in the local wild animal population and is a threat to pets and humans, year-round. The best way to protect your pets from rabies is to have them properly vaccinated for rabies.
For information on rabies or rabies vaccinations, you may call Catawba County Animal Services at 828-464-7686.