Holly Springs, N.C. — Holly Springs police said they are concerned about a possible rabies outbreak after finding three wild animals possibly infected with the disease this week.
Police suspect that a trapped raccoon and a fox that attacked a dog on Saturday both had rabies. Testing has also confirmed that a fox that attacked a person on Tuesday had rabies.
"The concern is that we might have a larger rabies outbreak than first thought," Lt. Anthony Revels, with the Holly Springs police, said.
In the past year, Holly Springs police had dealt with only one confirmed case of rabies, Revels said.
On Saturday, a fox attacked a Chihuahua as the dog and its owner were leaving their Optimist Farm Road home, town officials said.
The resident shot and killed the fox. A state laboratory is expected to return results from a rabies on Wednesday.
The dog owner was uninjured, and the Chihuahua, which was not vaccinated against rabies, has been quarantined.
Also on Saturday, animal-control officers found a diseased and possibly rabid raccoon inside a trap set out in the Sunset Lake Village.
The raccoon does not qualify for testing by a state laboratory, because no people or pets are believed to have been exposed to it. Animal-control officers, though, said they think it had rabies.
The raccoon was found in the same neighborhood where a fox attacked a person on Tuesday.
Authorities said that fox, which was caught and euthanized, might have recently given birth. Her pups have not been found, and officers said they might be too young to survive on their own.
Police urged residents to call 919-557-9111 if they see wildlife behaving abnormally, especially near homes. Pet owners should make sure their animals are vaccinated against rabies.
Animals impaired by rabies may act unpredictably or aggressively and approach people and pets, rather than running away.
Loss of wildlife habitat is bringing humans and wildlife such as foxes in closer proximity. Residents should not set out food for wildlife, but should secure garbage can lids and remove attractions such as pet food bowls to help keep wildlife away.
Click here for information on rabies from the state Department of Health and Human Services.