a fox standing in the grass

Greenwood fox tests positive for rabies; bitten resident starts treatment

Charlie Megginson Headlines, Health

a fox standing in the grass

The Delaware Division of Public Health wants anyone who thinks they or their animals may have been in contact with a rabid fox in Greenwood to call the state, Photo by Steffie Wacker/Pexels

 

A fox in the Greenwood area has tested positive for rabies after biting a human Friday. 

The incident occurred on Friday, Sept. 3 in the vicinity of Route 16 in Greenwood between Judy Road and Century Farm Road. 

The individual involved has begun treatment for rabies exposure, according to the Division of Public Health. 

DPH is now advising residents in the area who think they may have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with a fox to contact their health care provider and call the DPH Rabies Program at (302) 744-4995. An epidemiologist is available 24/7 to handle rabies-related cases, according to the press release. 

Residents in the area with pets who may have encountered the fox are advised to call their private veterinarian for examination and treatment, and report the exposure to the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

DPH has performed rabies tests on 136 animals since Jan. 1, 2021, with nine confirmed to be rabid including one dog, one raccoon, one skunk, two cats, three bats, and this fox. 

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.

DPH recommends that individuals take the following steps to prevent rabies exposure:

  • All dogs, cats, and ferrets 6 months of age 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. It is especially important for pet owners who do allow their cats to roam outdoors to vaccinate their pets.
  • 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 your pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and, thus, reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
  • Keep your garbage securely covered.
  • Consider vaccinating livestock and horses, as well. It is recommended to consult with your private veterinarian if you have any questions regarding whether your animal(s) should be vaccinated against rabies.

If you encounter a wild animal behaving aggressively, DPH recommends you contact the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Wildlife Section at (302) 739-9912 or (302) 735-3600.

Residents are advised not to throw items at the animal or make loud banging noises, as doing so may startle the animal and cause it to attack.

Instead, DPH says in the event you encounter an animal acting aggressively or foaming at the mouth, you should raise your hands above your head to make yourself appear larger to the animal while slowly backing away from it.

If the animal continues to approach, you should raise your voice and yell at it. As a last resort, DPH advises you to “use any means to protect yourself,” including throwing an object at the animal or fending it off with a long stick, shovel or fishing pole. 

If you encounter an aggressive stray or feral domestic animal, such as a cat or dog, you are advised to contact the Office of Animal Welfare at (302) 255-4646.

For more information on the DPH rabies program, go to website or call (866) 972-9705 or (302) 744-4995.

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