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Rabid fox found in Sullivan County

By Staff | Nov 27, 2015

DUSHORE – For the second time this year in Sullivan County, rabies was discovered in a gray fox near Route 220 in Dushore.

“As I understand it, the fox was found rambling around buildings. Basically, it was exhibiting behavior that was abnormal. Eventually, the fox was submitted to the Department of Health. I believe it was found by a Game Commission officer,” said William R. Nichols, spokesperson for the state Department of Agriculture.

The fox was observed near some buildings over the period of a few days, according to the Department of Agriculture.

“When we send rabies alerts out, we’re looking to ensure that folks realize that rabies is out there. It’s been identified and to be extra cautious of wild animals, including the feral cat population that happens to be in that area,” Nichols said.

With known rabies exposure in the area, any strange wildlife behavior could be a sign of rabies.

“Be on the lookout for suspicious behavior and keep your distance from wild animals if they seem to be exhibiting signs of abnormal behavior,” Nichols said.

Abnormal behavior could include seeing nocturnal animals during day time hours, lack of coordination or stumbling around, foaming at the mouth or showing no signs of fear of humans.

“In normal cases, wild animals won’t be interested in hanging around you. So, if you see a raccoon during the day or a fox that is not leaving a populated area, which is what I understand – this fox was just hanging around buildings all day for several days. If you see those signs, those could be reasons to steer clear,” Nichols said.

In the gray fox instance, one human was exposed to the animal and has been advised to receive rabies treatment, according to the Department of Agriculture’s press release.

As rabies is spread through the saliva, any exposure to the animal can put humans or domestic pets at risk.

“Even if you get close enough to get the saliva on you, in particular just have it close enough to an orifice, like eyes or mouth or punctured skin, those are ways that humans can be exposed to a rabid animal. If you’re bitten, certainly call your local Department of Health. You can certainly also call the Department of Agriculture or Game Commission. Don’t delay,” Nichols said.

Other previous instances of rabies this year in Sullivan County was a bat. Lycoming County has had four known instances of rabies including two skunks, a raccoon and a beaver.

“You want to exercise caution in every way possible and that includes handling an animal. We advise against taking in what appears to be a sick animal or trying to engage in any way with a wild animal. A feral cat could be rabid,” Nichols said.

“When it comes to disposing a rabid animal, if it’s expired or it happens to be killed during any sort of aggression to people, again we advise to give us (Department of Agriculture) a call or the Game Commission. We can help make sure you’re safe in handling any animals,” Nichols said.

If there are any doubts about wild animals, always act on the side of caution.

“If it’s wild, it’s best to stay away,” Nichols said.