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July 7, 2011

For More Information Contact

  • Robert Parker, public information officer, Western Region, 540-381-7100, ext. 151


(FINCASTLE, Va.) – On Saturday, July 2, 2011 Botetourt County Animal Control received a report that a red fox ran into a yard on Mt. Pleasant Church Rd. in Botetourt County, attacked and bit a person, then ran into the woods and has not been seen since. There are no additional reported incidents of direct contact with this fox by humans or domestic animals at this time.

“Since the fox was not captured and tested for rabies, it is impossible to know if it was rabid,” said Stephanie Harper, M.D., director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts. “But based on the animal’s behavior, and the fact that rabies is endemic in wildlife throughout Virginia, we must recognize rabies as a possibility and take appropriate precautions. It’s very important that we locate this fox if possible, to determine whether this person was exposed. And we need to know if there are other potential exposures to people or domestic animals.”
The Virginia Department of Health and the Botetourt County Animal Control ask that anyone who knows of any suspected contact between this fox and any person or domestic animal contact them immediately. Call the Virginia Department of Health in Fincastle at 540-473-8240, ext. 125, or Botetourt County Animal Control at 540-473-8631. 

Rabies is almost always a fatal disease that is caused by a virus. The rabies virus is present predominantly in the saliva and nervous tissue (brain and nerve cells) of infected animals and is transmitted most often by a bite but can also be transmitted when saliva or nervous tissue gets into open cuts or mucus membranes, such as the eyes, nose and mouth. Rabies causes an inflammation of the brain and is almost always fatal once symptoms develop. If a person is exposed, timely treatment is effective in preventing the development of rabies.

The best ways to prevent the spread of rabies from animals to humans are:

  • Vaccinate all dogs, cats and ferrets by four months of age, by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Enjoy wildlife at a distance.
  • Secure your yard and home.
  • Do not allow your animals to roam free.
  • Avoid contact with stray animals.
  • If you are bitten or exposed to rabies, wash the wound thoroughly with lots of warm water and soap and seek medical attention immediately.

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Last Updated: 07-30-2011

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