You see an injured wild animal. Its predicament breaks your heart. What to do?
Despite your best intentions, the most prudent course of action is not to have contact with the animal, a health official said.
Larry Taltoan, Radnor Township’s health officer, said he understands the instincts of Good Samaritans who want to help. But, he said, “Wild animals are best viewed from a distance.”
Why? Because they can carry disease - like the red fox that a man handled Monday afternoon in Wayne. Officers received a call at 2 p.m. and arrived to find a man holding an injured red fox in a blanket.
The fox was tested for rabies at the state’s Lionville, Pa., laboratory. Uh oh - the fox was rabid. The state’s health authorities put out a call for the man to turn himself in because he had left the scene without identifying himself.
Rabies is a viral disease affecting the nervous system. It is usually transmitted to humans via the saliva of an infected animal, according to info provided by the state health department.
Yesterday, Inquirer reporter Peter Mucha wrote that the man had been found. Holli Senior, deputy press secretary for the health department, said it did not appear that the man had been exposed to the fox’s saliva, so he was spared a series of rabies injections.
“He did not need to receive treatment,” Senior wrote in an email.
Rabies continues to be a significant public health in Pennsylvania. Since 2000, between 350 and 500 animals were confirmed by laboratory tests to have rabies.
In 2010, the rabies cases were as follows: 53 percent were raccoons, 14 percent each in skunks and cats; seven percent were bats; and six percent were foxes.
“Wild animals should not be handled or kept as pets,” Senior wrote.
In contrast to the situation in animals, human rabies in Pennsylvania is rare. The last diagnosed human case was in 1984, she said.