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HILLSVILLE — A 10-year-old boy has to be treated for rabies after being bitten by a rabid fox last Thursday.
Carroll County officials did not release the name of the child, but did confirm the incident at 546 Carrollwood Drive.
Reports say that at about 7:40 p.m., the boy saw the fox near the residence and went inside to tell adults there.
When the child went back outside, the fox lunged at him and bit him on the feet.
A Carroll animal control officer responded and found the fox at the scene, according to Scott Honaker of the Mount Rogers Health District.
“The fox was submitted for testing last week and it tested positive,” he said.
That makes the fifth animal from Carroll County in a few weeks that has tested positive for rabies, officials have noted.
Officials confirmed that one fox found dead on the north side of Hillsville May 23 had rabies.
A fox and a raccoon proved to have rabies in two reports May 31. The fox in question was found in the same vicinity as where the previous fox had been found dead in town.
“On May 24th, the health department was notified of a dog fighting with a raccoon in the Cana area, which was also positive,” according to a news release from the health department. “In all instances, domestic dogs and/or cats were exposed to these rabid animals.”
Health department officials want to be sure, with all these cases of rabies, to keep repeating the message that people should enjoy wildlife from a distance and they should get their pets vaccinated for rabies, Honaker said.
There can be an uptick in rabies cases in spring, when animals come out of their dens after winter, but people need to stay alert to the threat of rabies all year.
People should avoid coming into direct contact with wild animals or animals that act strangely, Honaker said. People who notice animals acting strangely should notify authorities.
Vaccinated pets that have encounters with rabid animals may just need a booster shot afterwards, as compared to an isolation period and perhaps euthanasia for those pets that haven’t been vaccinated, he said.
Virginia state law requires all pets to receive the vaccination by four months of age.
“If a pet is determined to have been exposed to rabies, the law requires that either the owner produce proof of vaccination or the pet will be euthanized or quarantined with no contact for six months," Honaker said. gI cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep pets' rabies vaccine up to date."
Health department officials urge the public to stay away from stray or sick-acting animals. Pet food and garbage should not be left outdoors, where it could attract wildlife.
• More information about rabies is available at the Virginia Department of Health's Rabies Control and
Prevention Web site.