Fox tests positive for rabies in Igloolik

Health Department reminds residents to be cautious outside

A fox is seen near Iqaluit. A case of rabies from a fox in Igloolik has been reported by the Government of Nunavut’s Health Department. (Photo by Paul Nuyalia)

By Madalyn Howitt

The Nunavut Health Department has confirmed that a fox in Igloolik has tested positive for rabies.

In a news release issued Tuesday, Health spokesperson Danarae Sommerville urged residents to be on the lookout for foxes in the community, due to the danger of rabies.

She said that anyone who has been bitten or scratched by a fox or a dog should go to a health centre and report the incident to officials immediately, as treatment for rabies must be administered quickly.

Rabies is commonly found in foxes and wolves in Nunavut and can spread to humans and dogs when an infected animal bites, scratches or licks them. It is also possible for people to contract rabies when handling or skinning infected animals if they have cuts on their skin.

The signs of rabies in animals include strange behaviour, staggering, frothing at the mouth and choking or making strange noises. Residents who notice any of these symptoms in foxes or in dogs should avoid the animal and report it to a conservation officer.

Sommerville is reminding residents to monitor domestic animals for any change in behaviour if they spend lots of time outside.

The positive case in Igloolik comes after two foxes in Iqaluit also tested positive for rabies, officials confirmed on Dec. 3. An increased number of fox sightings in the area has raised the risk of rabies exposure.

Officials are reminding residents that any foxes or wolves that are spotted wandering through communities should be reported to a wildlife guardian at 867-934-8999 or a regional environmental health officer at 867-975-1163.

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