Note: This report was updated with information from that county on where the attack took place. It happened in DeWitt.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A fox that attacked three adults in Onondaga County has tested positive for rabies, according to the Onondaga County Health Department.
The fox attacked the three people unprovoked in DeWitt, said Rebecca Shultz, the county’s director of community health.
The three adults were exposed to the rabid fox, but there have been no human cases of rabies in the county so far this year, Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta said in a news release.
So far this year, five animals — two bats, a cat, a raccoon and now a fox — have tested positive for rabies in Onondaga County, Gupta said in the release.
“This is the time of year that the public may encounter wildlife,” Gupta said. “It is important not to touch or feed wildlife because they may be rabid.”
The health commissioner stressed the importance of “protecting yourself from rabies … year round.”
“Rabies is a fatal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord,” Gupta said. “It can take several weeks to several months for rabies symptoms to appear. Although there is no treatment for rabies, it is preventable in both human and pets.”
Earlier this month, an Oswego County resident was attacked by a fox, according to Oswego County Health Department officials. That resident was being treated for exposure to rabies, they said.
In Wayne County, an 84-year-old man strangled to death a fox on July 1 after it attacked his wife, knocking her down in their driveway, according to a Wayne County health department official.
Onondaga County offered these tips on preventing rabies in pets and humans:
- Make sure rabies vaccinations are up-to-date for all your pets (dogs, cats and ferrets). State Public Health Law requires that all puppies and kittens get their initial shot at 3 months old, the first booster shot within one year after the initial shot and then a booster shot every three years. Ferrets must get a shot every year.
- Maintain control of your pets. Keep cats and ferrets indoors and keep dogs under direct supervision.
- Make sure to wear gloves before tending to your dog after a fight with a wild animal. Consult a veterinarian for further care.
- Call your town or local municipality for assistance or guidance on how to remove stray or wild animals from your neighborhood.
- Never try to approach nor pet a wild or unfamiliar animal, including stray cats.
- Do not bring a wild animal, such as a fox, raccoon, woodchuck or skunk, etc. into your home or treat them as pets.
- Supervise children while interacting with animals.
- Respect a dog’s space. Never approach a dog, especially one that is tied or confined behind a fence or in a car. Be cautious around strange dogs. Don’t pet a dog—even your own—without letting it see and sniff you first.