The Newfoundland and Labrador government has confirmed that an Arctic fox killed in the community of Nain has tested positive for rabies. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the positive result in the fox, which had been shot by a resident in early January.
Fox populations are noted to be high this year, and foxes exhibiting unusual behaviour have been reported in areas of Labrador in recent weeks. The last recorded case of rabies in a fox in Labrador was in 2018. There have been no recorded cases of rabies in a fox on the Island since 2003.
Residents are asked to be vigilant and take precautions when encountering animals that are acting in an unusual or aggressive manner. Avoid and report animals exhibiting signs of rabies, including:
- Behaving strangely,
- Frothing at the mouth,
- Choking, or
- Making unusual noises.
Advice for residents:
- For the best protection of domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, it is advisable to keep pets under control and tethered or penned while outdoors, preferably under supervision. Domestic animals that spend most of their time outdoors should be contained and monitored for changes in behaviour and signs of rabies.
- Vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies.
- Avoid wild animals, particularly foxes and wolves.
- Report all sightings of Arctic foxes.
- Report any sightings of wild or domestic animals acting strangely to a local Forest Management Office, Resource Enforcement Division, Animal Health Division, or local police. Any reports in Nunatsiavut communities should go to the local Conservation Officers.
Any Labrador residents that have been recently bitten or scratched by a fox or dog are advised to contact their Community Clinic to be assessed. Always seek immediate medical treatment if you are in contact with a potentially rabid animal.
Treatment must be started quickly after exposure, as rabies infection is almost always fatal. Wash any bites, scratches or other areas of contact immediately with soap and water.