Rabid fox attacks two people in Eastern North Carolina county, health officials say

Sergei Grits/AP
·2 min read

A rabid fox attacked two people in separate incidents in an Eastern North Carolina county, health officials said.

Brunswick County Health Services said in a news release Friday, June 24, that a fox believed to have attacked two people in the western part of the county tested positive for rabies after being captured and euthanized.

Both people who were attacked are “receiving the necessary rabies vaccinations,” officials said.

“Health Services and the Animal Protective Services division at the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office are working together to investigate the incidents and inform the community about proactive safety steps they can take wherever they live in the county,” the release said.

Two types of foxes are found in North Carolina: the red fox and the gray fox.

Both are common across all 100 counties, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, but only the gray fox is native to the state. Sightings of the animals have become more common because of the “abundance of food and den sites available to foxes in suburban environments.”

Fox attacks on people are rare, the commission says.

But “any mammal can transmit rabies,” and health officials recommend taking steps to protect yourself and pets from “potentially rabid animals:”

Keep pets up to date on their rabies vaccinations. In North Carolina, pet dogs, cats and ferrets are required by law to be vaccinated when they are 4 months old.

Supervise pets and keep them on a leash when outside.

Do not feed pets outside, as it attracts wildlife.

Do not feed wild animals.

Keep garbage cans secure with wildlife-proof lids.

Leave young wildlife alone and contact a professional if “you find a juvenile animal that appears to need help.”

If bitten or scratched by an animal that could have rabies, health officials say to “clean the wound well with soap and running water for 15 minutes and contact your doctor.” Your doctor will decide if you need rabies vaccinations.

“Do not try to catch any wild animal that bites or scratches you. Call animal control immediately to capture the animal for rabies testing,” officials say. “If the animal is someone’s pet, get the owner’s name and address and provide them to the animal control officer.”

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