Test finds rabies in fox in Lavonia

  • The Franklin County Health Department issued information this week about a rabid fox in Lavonia.
    The Franklin County Health Department issued information this week about a rabid fox in Lavonia.

LAVONIA – A fox killed Saturday in Lavonia has tested positive for rabies.

The fox was found in the area of Vickery Street and Washington Street, a press release from the Franklin County Health Department said.

“A sample was sent to the state lab on Monday and the results came back late yesterday,” Environmental Health Manager Louis Korff said. “I will hand out flyers in the immediate area.”

Another rabid fox was reported last week in Stephens County.

The rabies virus is present in Franklin County wildlife and can be transmitted to domestic animals and humans, the information from the health deaprtment said. 

Rabies is transmitted only when the virus is introduced into bite wounds, open cuts in the skin, or onto mucous membranes, such as the eyes or mouth. 

Rabies is a viral infection transmitted in the saliva of infected mammals. 

The virus enters the central nervous system of the host causing an inflammation of the brain that is almost always fatal. 

The most common carriers of rabies are raccoons, skunks, coyotes, foxes and bats, the press release said.  

“Rabies in humans can be prevented by eliminating exposures to rabid animals or by providing exposed persons prompt medical treatment,” the press release said. “Post-exposure rabies treatment includes a series of vaccine injections in the wound area.  The treatment can be costly; however, it is extremely important because rabies is almost always fatal without it.  Post-exposure vaccine can be found at all the major hospitals within District 2 and information about vaccine assistance programs can be obtained from your local Environmental Health Office.” 

Encounters between wild animals and domestic pets, including some that involved people, have increased recently, the press release said. 

“These incidents of exposure are common but can be prevented if residents take precautions to protect themselves and their pets,” according to the release. “People should always avoid contact with unfamiliar dogs, cats and wild animals. This includes feeding or attempting to help an animal that appears injured. Maintaining current rabies vaccinations for your pets and keeping them away from wild animals is the best way to protect them.  If you feed your pets outside, pick up any uneaten food so wild animals, including feral cats, will not be attracted to your property. Feral cats, unlike stray domesticated cats, are born in the wild and should be treated as wild animals.  Do not attempt to capture or feed feral cats. Leave them and other wild animals alone.” 

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources regulations prohibit the keeping of wild and wild/domestic hybrid animals as pets. Some animals identified by these regulations are raccoons, skunks, coyotes, foxes, and bats.

More information is available about wild animals at www.georgiawildlife.com.  

If you see a wild animal acting strangely, avoid the animal and contact the DNR Ranger Hotline at:1-800-241-4113.

The role of public health is to ensure that domestic animals are vaccinated against rabies and to ensure the public is educated and informed about rabies.  

“There is no better time than now to ensure that all your pets are currently vaccinated,” the press release said.

For more information about rabies, ask a veterinarian, local health department or go to www.dph.georgia.gov/rabies.