Susan Tulugarjuk, right, was bitten by a fox in Igloolik on Monday. She received treatment for a potential rabies infection the same day. (Photo courtesy of Susan Tulugarjuk)

Foxes ‘attack from nowhere’ says Igloolik woman

Woman in hamlet required rabies treatment after a fox bit her Monday

By David Lochead

Susan Tulugarjuk was walking to work on Monday morning when she suddenly felt something bite her on the right side of her back.

“I looked behind and saw a fox,” Tulugarjuk said in an interview.

She said that she started panicking and yelled at the fox, which ran away.

Tulugarjuk then ran to her neighbour’s house, where she was let inside.

She was then driven immediately to the hospital, where she got treatment for a potential rabies infection.

Tulugarjuk did not want to discuss details of the treatment process, but she did say it didn’t hurt.

According to the Canadian Immunization Guide, rabies treatment generally involves a needle given three different times between the first and 28th day after a potential infection.

Over the past month, there has been an increase in fox sightings and cases of rabies in foxes in the communities of Igloolik and Iqaluit. A fox was confirmed to have rabies in Igloolik on Dec. 14, while two foxes have been reported to have rabies in Iqaluit over the past five weeks, according to Nunavut’s Health Department.

Anybody who is scratched or bitten by a fox or a dog should go to the hospital immediately, Department of Health officials advised on Monday.

If left untreated, rabies is almost always fatal, according to the Government of Canada’s Immunization Guide. A rabies vaccine should be given on the first day a person may have been infected, the guide states.

After the fox bite, Tulugarjuk said she does not intend to walk alone to work anymore.

“Everyone should be aware of foxes because they can attack from nowhere,” she said.

The fox that attacked Tulugarjuk was caught and killed but the GN’s Health Department could not confirm whether the fox had rabies, department spokesperson Danarae Sommerville said in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

To confirm whether an animal has rabies the head needs to be preserved and this fox was killed in a way that made head preservation impossible.

Signs of rabies in an animal include behaving strangely, staggering, frothing at the mouth, choking or making strange noises.

The GN added that residents of Igloolik should tie up their dogs and monitor them for any signs of rabies.

Anyone who sees a fox or wolf in the community, or a dog acting strangely, should contact the local wildlife guardian at 867-934-8999 or the regional environmental health officer at 867-975-1163, the GN says.

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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    The fox was probably shot in the head instead of the body. The rabies lab needs brain tissue for rabies testing or the spinal chord which is trickier to get. The head should be frozen before shipping as soon as possible and only a person fully vaccinated with the pre rabies vaccine should be handling a possibly rabid fox to send out for testing wearing PPE. Trappers and wolf, wolverine hunters you should definatly get vaccinated againts rabies if you are going to skin animals. Do not play Russian roulette, you can not always tell before hand if an animal has rabies as they can have the “dumb” form where they are not agressive at all and still carry the virus. always wear disposable gloves when skinning those animals.

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