ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Health Department is warning residents to stay clear of animals they don’t know, in the wake of an attack by a rabid fox in Rockingham.
According to a report filed by Rockingham police, the fox darted onto a porch on Mandella Lane on Monday, biting a woman on the right calf. The woman called police, who shot at the fox but missed. Officers killed the animal after renewing their search Tuesday. They took the head to the Health Department, which sent it off to a state laboratory to confirm the presence of rabies.
Now confirmed, the rabies case is the seventh in the county during the past two years, county Health Director Dr. Tommy Jarrell said Friday. The most recent previous incident — in the spring of last year — also involved a fox.
“(Seven) is a pretty significant number for a rural county,” Jarrell said. The latest incident — though no less dangerous — was less dramatic than the last. During that one, the rabid fox actually bolted into a house.
“It’s not normal for a fox to come even close to you,” Jarrell warned. If one does, “that’s when you need to get really concerned.” Animals infected by rabies move both fast and erratically.
Those who live near Mandella Lane — off East Washington Street and near Hinson Lake — should be “extra cautious” and keep a lookout for animals they don’t know, Jarrell said. They also should check their pet dogs and cats for scratches and bites, especially if the animals have been behaving unusually.
Even animals that are up to date on their rabies vaccinations must be quarantined if bitten by a rabid animal, Jarrell said.
The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and Rockingham and Hamlet police perform their own animal-control duties, so residents should report incidents to the appropriate agencies.
Being bitten by a rabid animal forces a bite recipient to undergo five scheduled anti-rabies shots, as well as a series of antibody injections, all over 28 days.
The old series of stomach shots are a thing of the past, Jarrell said, but what the new regimen has lost in physical pain, it makes up for in financial misery. The series can cost as much as $10,000 for an adult, which insurance may or may not cover.
The woman bitten Monday began treatment immediately.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.