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A rabid raccoon that bit a dog at a home on Kenbrook Drive Sunday is the first case for the city this year, according to Galax Police Capt. James Cox.
Two separate incidents in which infected foxes attacked humans have been reported in Carroll County.
Shortly after being captured by animal control officer Veronica Bryant, the raccoon was euthanized the same day and tested through the Virginia Department of Health. The animal tested positive for rabies Monday morning. The dog, which had current rabies vaccinations, will be quarantined for 45 days and returned to its owner.
Cox said, according to the owner, the dogs had cornered a raccoon in the garage of the home. The raccoon stayed inside the garage until the police and Bryant were able to get there.
Bryant said the dog was bitten on the right side by the raccoon. Fortunately, the dog's rabies vaccinations saved its life, she said.
Had the dog not been vaccinated, it would have been put down for the fatal disease, or the owner would have to face up to six months confinement.
“If people love their animals, they should have their pets vaccinated,” said Bryant. “It will save their lives.
“Rabies, which causes inflammation to the brain, is fatal. If a pet without its vaccination is infected with rabies, it will eventually die, and other animals that eat on the carcass will be infected.”
The city reminded owners to make sure that their pets' rabies shots are current. Also, wild animals that are acting abnormally or look abnormal should be reported to the Galax Police Department at 236-8101 .
Rabid animals show changes in behavior, in which they lose their appetite and stop drinking water. They may become vicious and bite without provocation. It is not natural for a wild animal to approach humans.
Citizens are reminded to never approach a wild animal, and symptoms of the disease vary in those bitten.
The confirmation of a rabid animal in Galax follows two separate incidents in which infected foxes attacked humans in Carroll County, according to Terry Woods, the county's animal control officer.
“We have had two confirmed foxes that have exposed humans,” he explained. “Both of them were bitten by foxes that turned out to be positive [for rabies].”
Both attacks happened when the foxes climbed up on a residence's porch and attacked the people it found there, he said.
The first attack happened about three weeks ago in Woodlawn. A mother tried to drive off the animal, but it ended up biting a four-year-old on the thumb. Woods said that was after a man reported knocking an aggressive fox off his riding lawn mower.
The more recent attack happened on Main Street in Hillsville, when a fox bit the foot of a wheelchair-bound resident who couldn't get away, Woods said.
Both of those animals were secured for testing and confirmed to have rabies, he said.
Carroll County has had six confirmed cases of rabies, with three foxes, a raccoon, a skunk and a dog, according to information from the Mount Rogers Health Department.