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Second rabies case confirmed in Oak Island

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OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) -- The State Lab confirms the second case of rabies this year at Oak Island. The Brunswick County Health Department says a fox sent to the lab Monday tested positive for the disease.

The fox was one of five animals Animal Services sent to the lab for testing, including a raccoon from Oak Island and three bats from Shallotte. All four of the other animals tested negative for rabies.

The raccoon, which had been handled by several people, died so it was tested as a precaution. The bats fell out of a chimney when the home owners opened the vent. One bat was dead, one died shortly after it fell out, and the third was a baby. The home owners handled the baby bat, trying to feed it milk on their fingers.

The fox attacked a dog on Oak Island. The dog's owner pushed the fox away from the dog and killed the fox. The owner was not bitten or touched by the fox, so there was no need to treat him for possible rabies exposure. The dog was current on its rabies vaccination so it only needed a booster shot.

"I warn all citizens in (Oak Island) to assume any wild animals, including cats, may be infected with rabies and avoid any contact," Health Director David Stanley said.

The first rabies case at Oak Island was reported April 29.

All mammals, including people, can become infected with rabies but the four most common animals that carry rabies are foxes, raccoons, bats and skunks.

Rabies is caused by a virus that lives in the saliva of a rabid animal. Rabies is usually transmitted through an animal bite but it is also possible to be exposed to it if the animal’s saliva gets into a cut on your skin or in your eyes, nose, or mouth. You can not tell for sure if an animal has rabies just by looking. You should never try to touch or feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs.

"We encourage people, especially pet owners, to contact authorities of animals acting suspiciously," Stanley said. "Also make sure all your pets are current on vaccinations."

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