2 recent rabies cases puts county on alert

Published 2:20 pm Monday, May 2, 2022

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Jack Whitaker was checking the mailbox in front of his Pudding Ridge Road home last week when he felt the nudge against his leg.

He looked down and immediately knew it was a fox.

He also knew that if such an animal was coming at him in the early afternoon, chances are it was rabid.

He was right.

His encounter on April 26 was the second rabid animal that has bitten a Davie resident within the past month.

“I felt something get ahold of my leg. I kicked it off me and tried to get to my shed,” he said.

Then Whitaker’s dog started barking – looking out the door from inside the house. That got the attention of the fox, which then started toward his house.

By now, Whitaker had secured a strong enough weapon when the fox again came at him. “I killed it,” he said.

He called Davie County Animal Control, who retrieved the dead animal. Davie health department officials confirmed it had rabies. Whitaker’s encounter with the rabid fox left him several small cuts to his leg.

He had a doctor’s appointment already scheduled for the VA Hospital the next day, and doctors there immediately started him on medicines – six shots that first day and regular appointments for shots. The anti-rabies medicine, the hear Whitaker put it, “is pretty thick.”

He had nothing but praise for all local workers and those at the VA who have helped since his exposure.

The other rabies case included a feral cat near Potts Road and In and Out Lane in Advance.

The exposures prompted Davie Health and Human Services to put out warnings. They were to host a seminar on the subject Tuesday at noon.

Exposure is defined as a bite and/or scratch. Another way to become exposed is by handling a rabid animal (with bare hands), and the saliva of the infected animal penetrates an open wound, or the eyes, nose or mouth.

Public health and animal services personnel contacted individuals associated with the rabid animals and want to advise residents in the vicinity of the situation and urge caution when dealing with unknown animals. Call 336-753-6750 if you live in the exposure areas and you have, or know of anyone who might have had, any possible human or animal exposure.

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the nervous system; it is predominantly seen in raccoons, bats, and skunks, as well as in dogs and cats (domestic animals). Animals with rabies may show a variety of signs, including fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, paralysis and seizures. Aggressive behavior is common, but rabid animals may also be uncharacteristically affectionate. Horses and livestock with rabies also may exhibit depression, self mutilation, or increased sensitivity to light.

Rabid wild animals may lose their natural fear of humans, and display unusual behavior.  Although the most common signs of rabies are behavioral changes and unexplained paralysis, rabies should be considered in all cases of unexplained neurological disease.  If an individual suspects an animal of rabies, you are urged to contact Davie Animal Services at 336-751-0227.

Davie County residents are reminded that rabies has been established in North Carolina for many years, and that all wild or unknown animals should be avoided whenever possible since the possibility of exposure to rabies can occur anywhere and anytime.

Pet owners should remember that the best way to protect themselves, their families, and their pets is to keep their pets and any other animals with which they come into routine contact up-to-date on rabies vaccination.  Davie County Animal Services urges pet owners to take advantage of their rabies vaccination services available Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Animal Shelter.  No appointment is necessary and all dogs, cats and ferrets over the age of 4 months should be vaccinated against rabies. The cost is $5 (cash/exact change only) and you do not need to be a Davie resident to get the vaccines.

An update and public information session will be hosted on Tuesday, May 3 at noon, streamed live on the Animal Services Facebook page.  Following the session, the online interview will remain available for replay and also open for posting questions.  The link to the page can be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/DavieCountyAnimalShelter.

For additional information, contact Davie Health and Human Services – Division of Public Health (336-753-6750) or Davie County Animal Services (336-751-0227).