A fox found in Junction City has tested positive for rabies, Lane County Public Health officials said Tuesday. It is the first confirmed case of the virus in the state and the first report of a rabid fox in Lane County since the 1960s, officials said. Chintimini Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Corvallis picked up the fox near a Junction City residence and tested it for rabies at Oregon State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Rabies is endemic in the bat population but rarely is seen in foxes, especially in the United States, officials said.

Symptoms in animals, particularly foxes and raccoons, include lethargy, walking in circles, loss of muscular coordination, convulsions, irritability, aggressiveness, disorientation and excessive salivating. Reports of erratic or unusual behavior in wildlife should be made to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s toll-free hotline at 866-968-2600.

Cindy Morgan, Lane County’s communicable disease supervisor, said in a prepared statement that all pet owners should have their pets vaccinated against rabies.

Health officials also recommend that pet owners feed pets indoors. Residents also are advised to seal or screen openings in attics, basements, porches, sheds, barns and chimneys that might provide access to bats and other rodents.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt appropriate medical care. Yet, more than 55,000 people, mostly in Africa and Asia, die from rabies every year. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.

What to do if you are potentially exposed:

"Rabid Fox found in Junction City." The Register Guard, July 30th, 2014. Web. July 30th 2014. "Rabies." CDC, April 22nd, 2011. July 30th, 2014.http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/index.html

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