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Rabid fox found in West Knox


The Knox County Health Department was notified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week that a dead fox found in West Knox County tested positive for raccoon rabies.

A Knox County Animal Control Officer recovered the fox in October 2005. The USDA took possession of the fox shortly thereafter as part of a raccoon rabies surveillance program. Knox County Health Department was notified last week about the positive test result.

“At this time no immediate public health threat has been identified,” Mark Jones, Knox County Health Department director said. “We would like to take this opportunity, though, to remind people of the importance of vaccinating their pets against rabies.”

“Less than fifty percent of pets are vaccinated against rabies in Knox County,” Ronnie Nease, Environmental Health Department director, said, “Not vaccinating your pet can be a real problem if your pet is bitten or scratched by a rabid animal.” Nease added there are precautions that people can take to protect themselves and their pets:

• Protect yourself. Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals, and be cautious of stray dogs and cats. Rabid animals do no always appear ill or vicious.

• Teach children to leave wildlife alone. Be sure your child knows to tell you if an animal bites or scratches him or her.

• Protect your pets. Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, or ferrets against rabies. Keep pet vaccinations up to date.

• Tightly close garbage cans. Open trash attracts wild or stray animals to your home or yard.

• Feed your pets indoors; leaving pet food outside attracts wildlife.

• Call your doctor and your local health department (865-215-5093 in Knoxville) for advice if an animal bites or claws you. Thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water and report the incident quickly.

Nease emphasized, “If you see an animal staggering, circling or acting unusual, please stay away and notify Knox County Animal Control as soon as possible. Though it may be tempting to try to help an injured animal, it is best to report the sighting rather than try to take matters into your own hands.”

 

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