Note: This story has been corrected on the day the warning from DPH went out.
On Wednesday, the Delaware Division of Public Health warned local residents east of Greenwood that a fox that bit a human on Friday, Sept. 3, tested positive for rabies.
The person who was bitten is now being treated. Treatment involves a series of four shots given over time.
The state said in a press release that anyone in the area of Route 16 between Judy Road and Century Farm Road who thinks they may have been bitten, scratched, or come in contact with a fox should immediately contact a health care provider or call the Division of Public Health at 302-744-4995 to talk to an epidemiologist.
If you think a fox may have bitten your pet, you should call a private veterinarian.
So far this year, the DPH has confirmed nine cases of rabies, including in a dog, a raccoon, a skunk, two cats, three bats, and the fox in question. In 2020, the department confirmed four rabies cases — in a raccoon, a bat and two cats.
Rabies is a deadly disease that affects the nervous system. You can get rabies from the bite or scratch of an infected animal, or if its saliva gets in your eyes, nose, mouth or an opening in the skin, DPH said.
Once symptoms appear, the disease is incurable and fatal.
All dogs, cats, and ferrets 6 months and older are required by Delaware law to get a rabies vaccine.
These are the DPH's recommendations to avoid rabies exposure:
• Do not touch or handle wild or unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.
• Do not keep your pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
• Do not feed feral animals, including cats, as the risk of rabies in wildlife is significant.
• Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and, thus, reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
• Keep your garbage securely covered.
• Consider vaccinating livestock and horses, as well.
If you come across an aggressive wild animal, contact the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912 or 302-735-3600. If you encounter a stray or feral domestic animal, such as a cat or dog, behaving aggressively, contact the Office of Animal Welfare at 302-255-4646.
To report a sick or hurt wild animal, Delaware residents are asked to contact the DNREC’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912 or 302-735-3600. Staff will determine whether it is more appropriate to refer callers to a permitted volunteer wildlife rehabilitator.
If you encounter a sick stray domestic animal, such as a cat or dog, contact the Office of Animal Welfare at 302-255-4646.