ISLE OF WIGHT CO., Va. — A fox found in an Isle of Wight County neighborhood has tested positive for rabies, the Isle of Wight Health Department announced.
The fox was found in the Wrenn's Mill Road area of the county on February 12.
Health officials say the fox may have been in contact with two dogs, which they say were not vaccinated for the disease.
Because the dogs were not vaccinated, the dogs must be strictly isolated in a specially-built, double-walled pen for 180 days or risk being euthanized.
Humans become exposed to rabies when the saliva of an infected animal enters the body through an open wound or mucous membrane, such as with an animal bite. Exposure can be a serious medical event, for which immediate evaluation and complete treatment is critical.
Health officials say rabies is highly preventable if the vaccine is given early and as recommended. Without preventative treatment, by the time someone develops the symptoms of rabies, there is no cure and it is fatal in almost 100% of cases.
Rabies is also fatal in infected domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.
Dr. Todd Wagner, D.O., the health director for the Western Tidewater Health District, strongly recommends Isle of Wight residents take the following precautions to protect their families and pets from rabies:
- If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact Isle of Wight Animal Control at (757) 365-6318 or the Isle of Wight Health Department (757) 279-3078.
- Seek medical treatment immediately for any animal bite to ensure appropriate and timely evaluation and treatment. All animal exposures must be taken seriously.
- Do not approach wild or stray animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, cats and dogs.
- Ensure all pet dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations. Please consult your veterinarian, Isle of Wight Animal Control or the Isle of Wight Health Department if you have any questions about pet vaccinations.
- Confine your pets to your property.
State law requires all dogs and cats over the age of four months to be vaccinated against rabies.
For more information on the disease, contact the Isle of Wight Health Department at (757) 279-3078, Isle of Wight Animal Control at (757) 365-6318 or visit the Virginia Department of Health's website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.