Rabies Case Confirmed in Lane County

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JUNCTION CITY, Ore. — The first case of rabies so far this year in Lane County has been confirmed.

Lane County Public Health says a fox found near a residence in Junction City tested positive for rabies. It is the first animal to test positive for rabies in Oregon this year.

The fox was brought to a wildlife center in Corvallis on Friday. The Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory tested for rabies and says the results came back positive. The Centers for Disease Control is currently testing to see which strain of rabies the fox had, but will likely not know the results until the end of the week. The fox was euthanized. 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife believes that this is an isolated case and that the fox came in contact with a rabid bat.

KEZI 9 News spoke with a Corvallis veterinarian, who says rabies is a lethal virus that affects the neurological system in mammals.

“There have been a few reported cases of people and animals surviving rabies, but it is very, very rare,” said Steve Amsberry, the owner of West Hills Animal Hospital and the President of the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association.

Amsberry says despite the rabid fox case in Lane County, he says nobody should panic.

“Rabies is very rare, but there are really simple things to do such as the vaccination of pets and decrease your exposure to wildlife that is acting abnormal in any way.”

He says rabies is contracted through saliva.

“So if there is a bite wound, that bite wound needs to be cleaned out with soap and water as soon as possible and you need to contact your veterinarian.”

This is the first report of a rabid fox in Lane County since the 1960s.

“Don’t feed wild animals,” Amsberry said. “You don’t want to encourage them to be around in your living space because you just don’t know. So an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Rabies symptoms in wildlife, particularly foxes and raccoons, include lethargy, walking in circles, convulsions, aggressiveness, excessive drooling of saliva, and showing no fear of humans.

However, according to the ODFW, a common stereotype of an animal with rabies is vicious and snarls like the dog in the movie “Old Yeller.” However, the ODFW says an animal with rabies is dying and is more likely to curl up in a ball before it goes into a coma. But that does not mean precautions should not be taken if anything unusual is noticed.

“Any animal that appears to have abnormal behavior, especially a wild animal that’s out during the day – just don’t go there,” Amsberry said. “Don’t touch them; don’t go near them.”

Wildlife experts do not think people should be concerned about the rabid fox case, but if anyone sees a sick animal in the wild, call the nearest ODFW office to respond.

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