The State Public Health Lab in Raleigh Thursday confirmed a case of rabies in a fox sent for testing from the Gray's Creek area of Cumberland County, Cumberland County officials said.
It was the third rabies case reported this week in the county; there have been 10 cases since Jan. 1.
On Tuesday, July 16, nine dogs from Crittercreek Road off N.C. Highway 87 came in contact with a fox. The dogs' owners said the dogs attacked and killed the fox. Animal Control picked up the fox and sent it for testing. Animal Control officers will be in the area notifying residents of the rabies case.
The nine dogs were not vaccinated against rabies. If a pet is not currently vaccinated against rabies and is exposed to the saliva or nervous tissue of a rabid animal, state law requires the pet be euthanized or quarantined for six months.
Cumberland County county officials urged pet owners to check the vaccination status of their pets.
The first sign of rabies in animals is a change in behavior. Animals may become aggressive, attacking for no reason, or they may become very quiet. Wild animals can lose their fear of people and act tame, officials said. Rabid animals may walk in a circle, drag a leg, or fall over. Some cannot swallow so they are not able to eat or drink and often drool. Animals usually die within a week after first becoming ill.
Avoiding wild animals and keeping your distance from stray dogs and cats is the first step in preventing an animal bite. Any pet, which appears to have been in a fight while outside, should be handled very cautiously and seen by a veterinarian.