Published Date Written by Lloyd JonesBARTLETT — A fox discovered near Nordic Village on Route 16 in Glen has been confirmed to have had rabies. Selectmen were notified Thursday by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Service's Bureau of Infectious Disease Investigations that the fox tested positive for the virus. It represents the first positive case of rabies in Carroll County this year and in at least the past four years, according to Health and Humans Service statistics.
Selectmen said there is no reason for alarm, but wanted to make the public aware of the positive test and urged the public to exercise caution with animals in the wild.
"We don't want to create a scare, but we just want people to know," Gene Chandler, chairman of the board of selectmen in Bartlett, said Thursday afternoon. "There's no need to be paranoid."
Rabies is a potentially fatal virus that infects the central nervous system. It can be spread through a bite from an infected animal. Wild animals, including raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats, account for the majority of animal rabies cases reported annually in this country.
Rabid animals usually behave strangely. They may stagger, appear restless, be aggressive, appear very friendly, or may show no signs of the disease at all. People should not touch or feed wild animals or stray dogs or cats.
According to Health and Human Services and its monthly rabies report, prior to the Bartlett fox there had been just eight positive cases of rabies in New Hampshire this year. There had been 139 animals tested for the virus as of May 29.
Through May 29, three skunks (two in Rockingham County and one in Grafton); three raccoons (one each in Cheshire, Coos and Hillsborough counties); a bat (in Hillsboroguh County); and a coyote (in Hillsborough County) had tested positive for rabies.
In 2011, there were 25 positive case of rabies with 147 animals tested for the year including three in Carroll County (a raccoon in Ossipee; a bat in Brookfield; and a cat in Moultonborough). There were none in 2010.
There were three foxes that tested positive for rabies in 2011.
According to the staff of the Communicable Disease Control Section, most human rabies cases in recent years have been associated with bats.
Residents should avoid contact with wildlife or stray animals and call Animal Control immediately if an animal is observed acting strangely. If a pet is involved in a fight with a strange animal, wear waterproof gloves while handling the pet and call a veterinarian.
Anyone bitten or scratched by an animal that may be rabid should wash the wound with soap and water for 10 minutes and call a doctor immediately. If your doctor recommends treatment, you will undergo a series of injections that should be given as soon as possible after an exposure to prevent you from developing illness.
Rabies exists on every continent in the world except Australia and Antarctica.
According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, each year in the United States between 16,000 and 39,000 people are treated for rabies following exposure to rabid or suspect rabid animals.
"Wild animals, such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes account for the majority of animal rabies cases reported annually in the United States, while domestic animals are associated with fewer than 10 percent of all reported cases. This finding is consistent with New Hampshire statistics from 2001 through 2007: yearly, an average of 32 wild animals test positive for rabies, and an average of only two domestic animals test positive for rabies. There has been only one case of human rabies in N.H. since 1990. This case occurred in 1996 and originated from a dog bite in Nepal."
For specific concerns about rabies, call the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Communicable Disease Control Section at (603) 271-4496 or 1-800-852-3345 Ext. 4496, your health care provider, or your veterinarian.