Two Treated for Rabies after Encounters with Gray Foxes

OSWEGO COUNTY – Two people are being treated for exposure to the rabies virus after separate  encounters with gray foxes in Oswego County this week.

The Oswego County Health Department reports that the first incident took place on Christmas Day in the town of Palermo, where a gray fox bit a human.

The fox was not able to be tested for the rabies virus and the individual began post-exposure rabies treatment on Dec. 26.

In a separate incident on Tuesday, Dec. 27, a gray fox in the town of Hastings attacked and bit a human.

The fox tested positive for the rabies virus on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

The victim is being treated for exposure to rabies.

“Rabies is almost always fatal in exposed humans who develop the disease,” Jiancheng Huang, Public Health Director for the Oswego County Health Department, said today (Dec. 29). “Any encounters with a potentially rabid animal must be investigated as soon as possible to determine if a person or domestic pet may have been exposed to the rabies virus. Treatment can prevent rabies from developing in humans who have been exposed to the virus.”

The Health Department’s environmental team is available around the clock to respond to incidents that involve possible exposure to rabies.

If it’s determined that an animal needs to be tested for rabies, arrangements are made to have the specimen tested by the New York State Health Department.

If it’s determined there was possible exposure to humans or pets, the health department will advise on the proper treatment procedures.

The rabies virus can remain active in the environment throughout the year.

People should be wary of any animals that act abnormally, including foxes, bats, raccoons, skunks, deer and other mammals.

Mammals that are aggressive or tame, show no fear of humans, wander aimlessly, are disoriented, or appear to be sick or paralyzed could be infected with rabies or other diseases.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, gray fox may be found near woodlands and brushy and rocky areas across New York State.

They build their dens in hollow logs or trees, rocky outcrops, or thick brush.

They may also use abandoned houses, spaces beneath manmade structures such as sheds, or abandoned woodpiles, as dens.

To report a possible rabies exposure in Oswego County, call the health department weekdays at 349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3564.

In an emergency during evenings, weekends, or holidays, call the department’s answering service at 341-0086.

For more information visit http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/