Three reports of rabies in Holly Springs

May 25, 2008 6:04:13 PM PDT
A fox attacked a dog Saturday at a home on Optimist Farm Road, five days after another fox that was rabid scratched Sunset Lake Village homeowner in the same area of Holly Springs.

Also Saturday, a diseased --possibly rabid-- raccoon was found in a trap that Animal Control officers had set out in Sunset Lake Village.

With up to three rabies cases in less than a week, Holly Springs police are urging residents to call (919) 557-9111 if they see wildlife behaving abnormally. Pet owners should ensure their animals are vaccinated against rabies.

"The concern is we might have a larger rabies outbreak than first thought," Police Lt. Anthony Revels said.

The Optimist Farm Road incident occurred as a resident was exiting his home with his pet Chihuahua. As soon as the dog reached the bottom of the steps, the fox attacked. The resident shot and killed the fox.

That fox has been sent to a state laboratory for rabies testing. Results are expected by Wednesday. The Chihuahua, which had not been vaccinated against rabies, has been quarantined. Police said the dog owner was not exposed.

The raccoon does not meet state criteria for rabies testing since no people or pets were believed to have been exposed. Even so, Animal Control officers suspect it was rabid.

The Sunset Lake Village homeowner who was scratched in the first fox attack is undergoing rabies prevention treatment. Animal Control officers believe that fox may have given birth recently, but the fox pups have not been found. Officers say they may be too young to survive on their own.

Homeowners should not set out food for foxes, raccoons or other wildlife, police said. Securing garbage can lids and removing attractions such as pet food bowls also can help keep wildlife at an appropriate distance.

Until the past week, Revels said, Holly Springs police had had only one confirmed case of rabies in the past year. That involved a raccoon that attacked a cat. The cat had been vaccinated.

Twice a year, Holly Springs police hold low cost rabies vaccination clinics to reduce the number of unprotected pets in Holly Springs. State law requires vaccination of cats and dogs.

The state Department of Health and Human Services has information on rabies at www.epi.state.nc.us .

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