Suspected rabid fox removed from school grounds at Haw Creek Elementary

Students were kept indoors today, Oct. 21, while what school authorities first thought was a rabid fox was removed from the grounds of Haw Creek Elementary School by animal-control authorities. The animal is now believed to have been affected by distemper. Take a look at the signs and symptoms of rabies and distemper below, and be ready to call animal control or police if you see an animal behaving strangely, say officials.

Both rabies and distemper are viral illnesses, according to a description provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Distemper affects many different domestic and wild carnivores, and it occurs in two forms: canine (affecting dogs) and feline (affecting cats); it cannot be transmitted from an animal to a human. Rabies, on the other hand, is capable of infecting a person through the bite of an infected animal. Rabies is almost always fatal in both animals and humans when left untreated.

Distemper can be deadly but animals can recover from the disease. And while humans cannot contract distemper, the potential for people to be bitten by an animal with the disease is elevated because of behavioral changes in affected animals.

In both rabies and distemper, signs of abnormal behavior and apparent lack of fear may be the only visible signs. Behavioral changes often include aggressiveness, disorientation, lack of alertness, convulsive movements of the head and paws, and aimless wandering. There may be evidence of diarrhea, labored breathing and an unkempt appearance to the fur. Weakness and emaciation have been associated with canine distemper, but often animals will be acutely affected yet appear in good nutritional condition.

If you see a wild or domestic animal exhibiting these signs, contact Animal Control. If you live in the city, call the Asheville Police Department at 252-1110. The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is in charge of animal control for Buncombe County outside municipal limits. They can be reached at 250-6670.


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One thought on “Suspected rabid fox removed from school grounds at Haw Creek Elementary

  1. The Randy

    I like the advice given for those in Buncombe County, but the reality is quite different. A fox exhibiting symptoms like rabies or distemper was in my front yard when my son came home from school today. He chased him across the yard and bit the bottom of his pants leg before my son made it to the front porch. My wife called the B.C. Sheriff’s dept., animal control, Weaverville Police( we’re in Weaverville, but outside city limits), 911, the Wildlife Resource Commission; I found out later the President of my HOA had heard about the roaming fox and also called the above plus the Humane Society. The response was to “let nature take its course”, “that’s not our job”, “we can’t do anything until after someone’s bit”, etc. Both left messages with Animal Control, with no return calls. The fox earlier was foaming at the mouth, drooling, biting bark off of a tree, staggering, chattering his teeth, and obviously being very active and aggressive during daylight hours. My neighbor ended up shooting the fox and we buried it. I guess I’m glad it wasn’t a coyote or bear; maybe the authorities wait until the victim is bit and arrive before they’re completely eaten.

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