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Trapping efforts expand after rabid fox incident in Danville

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The Pittsylvania-Danville Health District is expanding efforts to trap animals following recent attacks by a rabid fox.

Four people were bitten by a rabid fox that was later shot by police at the Walmart parking lot July 22.

In one incident, two people were bitten in the Walmart parking lot after the fox came out from under some bushes and ran at them, said Paulette Dean, executive director of the Danville Area Humane Society.

Last week, animal control officers and the Danville Police Department started to corral a group of feral cats that may have had contact with a rabid fox. Officials are undertaking the effort to prevent the spread of rabies after four people were bitten by a rabid fox in the area, including two who were bitten in the parking lot at Walmart.

Now the local health district has recommended trapping other potential animals in the areas of Mount Cross Road and Tyler Avenue in Danville.

“Those animals, including feral cats, raccoons, possums, and skunks may have been exposed to rabies, and pose a continuing threat to people and pets in the area,” Linda M. Scarborough, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Health, wrote in a news release. “Trapping the animals is a public health measure to prevent the spread of rabies by removing from the public any animals that were exposed to the rabid fox.”

Area animal control officers are in the process of trapping the cats and taking them to the Danville Area Humane Society, where they will be housed in a separate area, Scarborough said. They will be observed for 10 days, after which they will be sent to the state laboratory in Richmond for further analysis.

“Due to this trapping period, domestic cats that are not contained by their owners may inadvertently find the traps where they will then be transported to the local animal shelter,” Scarborough wrote.

Any residents in the area around Walmart on Mount Cross Road whose pets are missing during that period are encouraged to call the Danville Area Humane Society at 434-799-5306.

Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that is 100% fatal if contracted, the health department stated.

Any incident in which a person has been bitten or scratched by an animal, or exposed to the animal’s saliva should be reported to the local health department right away, in order to determine any risk of rabies exposure and recommendations for public health and medical follow up.

Also, any situation where a pet or other domestic animal is attacked or bitten by a wild animal should be reported.

If anyone thinks they have been exposed to the fox or any other animal near Mount Cross Road or Tyler Avenue in Danville, they should contact the Pittsylvania-Danville Health Department at 434-766-9828.

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