Woman recovering from fox attack

By: By Mike Gellatly - mgellatly@robesonian.com

LUMBERTON — Two weeks after both were attacked by a rabid fox, a Lumberton woman and her dog are doing well.

The woman, whose name is being withheld, and her dog were attacked at their Russ Road home on June 28 by an animal that tested positive for the deadly virus.

“She’s doing her series of shots and still has some to go, but she is doing really well,” said Raymond Harris, North Carolina Wildlife Commission master officer.

Harris, who covers Robeson County for the commission, responded to the call about the attack, captured the animal and took it to the animal shelter in St. Pauls so the animal could be euthanized and sent to State Public Health Lab in Raleigh to be tested for rabies.

After the incident, concerns about the length of time between the call being made to 911 and an Animal Control officer responding were raised. Harris said procedure was followed to the letter and the report and capture went very well.

The attacked woman called emergency services after midnight. It was determined that the animal was secured in a room, so dispatchers passed the call along to wildlife officers. It was after 8 a.m. when Harris responded to the call.

“Being what time it was, and she was going to drive herself (to the hospital) there really isn’t anything to do until she got back from the hospital,” Harris said. “It (the fox) was in a good place where it was safe and there was no contact with anyone. The protocol was followed exactly, the first thing when someone could be a rabies vector, they should seek medical attention.”

Harris and a district biologist captured the fox.

“I was able to use a catch pole to get the animal and then I transported it to the animal shelter in St Pauls, which is under Health Department control,” Harris said.

The dog bitten by the fox was current on rabies vaccinations but received a booster shot out of caution.

Department of Public Safety policy dictates that an animal suspected of being rabid be euthanized and its head sent to the State Health Laboratory in Raleigh for testing.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rabies treatment procedure for human consists of four doses of rabies vaccine, one given on the day of exposure and then three more spaced out during the next two weeks. Patients also are treated with specific antibodies to fight the virus on the first day.

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals, particularly mammals. The most common type in North Carolina is raccoon-variant rabies. It is found commonly in raccoons, skunks, red and grey foxes, coyotes, wolves, groundhogs, and beavers. Bats also can transmit rabies but have their own bat variant rabies virus. Any mammal can be infected with rabies.

By Mike Gellatly


Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly