Local News

Fox accused of biting Durham child tests positive for rabies

Posted June 24, 2009

— A fox believed to have bitten a 4-year-old child has tested positive for rabies, Durham County Animal Control officials said Wednesday.

The girl, who was bitten at Westminster School for Young Children on Old Chapel Hill Road on Tuesday, will undergo post-exposure rabies vaccinations, officials said. The series of injections is important in preventing the disease from incubating in the child.

The child was attending the summer camp program and was in the playground at the time of the attack. As a result of the incident, nearby Westminster Presbyterian Church has decided to close through the weekend.

fox bites child Foxes with rabies found in Durham, Orange counties

Animal Control officers are working to trap and capture a den of baby foxes living adjacent to the school. Officials said it is believed the foxes are the offspring of the rabid, female fox.

Two of the fox pups were captured in traps Wednesday morning, officials said. There is a risk the pups may also be carrying the rabies virus.

The baby foxes will be euthanized and not released back into the wild.

“We know that we have essentially an epidemic of rabies among wildlife in our region that is rooted in the raccoon population,” said Orange County Animal Service Director Bob Marotto.

Marotto is dealing with three rabies cases in Orange County, all of which occurred on Tuesday.

Two medical center were bitten in Chapel Hill parking lots but what authorities believe was the same fox. That animal tested positive for rabies.

A different fox was picked up by authorities after getting into a fight with two dogs south of Hillsborough on Tuesday. Authorities said that fox also tested positive for rabies. It had no known human contact.

"Fortunately, each of the dogs was currently vaccinated against rabies," Marotto said.

Citizens are warned to stay away from wild animals and refrain from feeding them. Pet owners are also reminded to make sure their animals are vaccinated for rabies.


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  • Ferguson Jun 26, 2009

    infected with rabies may develop any of these symptoms:

    excessive movements or agitation
    bizarre or abnormal thoughts [confusion in animals]
    muscle spasms abnormal postures seizures (convulsions) weakness or paralysis (cannot move some part of the body) extreme sensitivity to bright lights, sounds, or touch increased production of saliva or tears difficulty speaking [barking] In the advanced stage of the infection, as it spreads to other parts of the nervous system, these symptoms may develop:

    double vision problems moving facial muscles abnormal movements of the diaphragm and muscles that control breathing difficulty swallowing and increased production of saliva, causing the "foaming at the mouth" usually associated with a rabies infection

  • Ferguson Jun 26, 2009

    If an animal has already exhibited signs of rabies there isn't a vaccination available that will cure the disease;spread by saliva, entering an open wound or mucus membranes [mouth, eyes, nose] it attacks the central nervous system (brain and nerves). If a wild animal bites a human, it is imperative to euthanize and test immediately as wild animals can live years with it. If a momma animal has it, why risk allowing the offspring biting. Humans will certainly die if not properly vaccinated. If the animal isn't caught you must begin a series of shots immediately If you get the shots started in time; vaccine has only 5-7 shots in the arm and the hiney(usually within 7 - 10 days) If it is a pet it will be quarantined for ten days as Cats and Dogs die from rabies during this period of time. Do not handle any strange animals..Saliva..saliva.. is the carrier. If aquire rabies unknowingly because you handled saliva of infected.You will die with in 3 to 8 weeks. Once you have symptoms no cure.

  • cocker_mom Jun 24, 2009

    The only sure test for rabies is to examine the brain - so - "testing" and only killing if they are rabid, really isn't an option... That whole "removing of the brain" is rather limiting.

  • BeachBum08 Jun 24, 2009

    if a female fox has rabies and is preggo and lives to have her pups then there is a 95% chance those pups have the disease as well...however it could take up to a year for signs or symptons to show! the community will be alot safer if they go on a put them down and so will the pups, if not they will suffer later on!

  • Adelinthe Jun 24, 2009

    Ah Geez!!!

    Praying for the child.

    Couldn't they just test the baby foxes too, instead of just assuming they were rabid and putting them down?

    God bless.


  • colliedave Jun 24, 2009

    given terrorists now must be read their Miranda Rights, was the same done for the fox?

  • Commentor5 Jun 24, 2009

    "Accused" of biting? Hey, WRAL, you reported YESTERDAY that the fox bit the child. What's gonna happen now? Is he innocent until proven guilty? Somebody needs to take some writing classes at WRAL.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 24, 2009

    Deathrow, why are you creating something, where nothing exists, to start a flame war? :-) I'm a huge animal advocate, but our current level of knowledge allows for only a lethal response to a rabid animal.

    So, this story reminds me some crazy movie I saw many years ago. This farmer guy gets bitten, shackles himself up and tells his family to kill him if he gets crazy. lol

  • BeachBum08 Jun 24, 2009

    vaccinations are not that bad her arm may hurt for a few minutes after a shot but its not terrible pain just feels like you slept on it or something. even if a human is vaccinated against rabies if you come in contact you still have to have 3 booster shots. you have 72 hours (vaccinated or not) to get treatment if you have come in contact with rabies! Your best bet is to just go on to the emergency room.

  • 5-113 FA Retired Jun 24, 2009

    It appears that the Dems don't hold a monopoly on gettin' their oil changed while in office.