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Rabid fox found in Hagerstown

June 13, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- A fox that was captured after it chased a housekeeper into a building late last week at the Potomac Center on Marshall Street has tested positive for rabies, according to a press release from the Humane Society of Washington County.

No one was injured by the fox after it followed the housekeeper into one of the buildings and was trapped immediately in a vestibule, said Cathy Marshall, Potomac Center director. The fox paced in the vestibule for about 15 minutes before animal control workers arrived.

"I don't think people were as much scared as they were concerned," Marshall said. "They were wondering if another one was around."

Katherine Cooker, a humane society spokeswoman, said animal control workers used a snare to capture the animal. The humane society then euthanized and decapitated the fox so its brain could be examined by a lab for rabies. Earlier this week, the test came back positive, she said.

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"We don't want people to panic," Cooker said. "We want people to be aware ... It's a good idea to be vigilant."

Although rabies usually occurs in wild animals - particularly raccoons and skunks - people should vaccinate their pets to be safe, Cooker said.

She said she wasn't certain how many cases of rabies were reported in Washington County last year because the Washington County Health Department maintains those records.

The health department had closed for business before the press release was received by The Herald-Mail.

Rabies causes acute inflammation of the brain. If left untreated, it is almost always fatal in mammals.

If you see an animal exhibiting any of the suspicious behavior listed below, call the Humane Society of Washington County at 301-733-2060, ext. 203.

Signs of a rabid animal are:

· Shyness in a usually friendly pet

· Restlessness, excitability, aggression or sudden mood changes

· Excessive drooling

· An animal that is normally nocturnal becoming active during the day, such as bats, raccoons and skunks

· Eating substances not normally eaten

· Paralysis

What to do if you have been bitten or believe you have been in contact with the saliva of a wild animal:

· If you were bitten, immediately wash the wound. It should be gently irrigated with water or a dilute water povidone-iodine solution to reduce the risk of bacterial infection.

· Contact your physician.

· Go to the closest emergency room where it will be determined whether you should begin the series of post-exposure shots.

· Call the health department at 240-313-3400 to alert them that there might have been exposure to saliva of a potentially rabid animal.

Source: Humane Society of Washington County

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