MASARDIS, Maine — A fox that bit a dog has tested positive for rabies in Aroostook County and is the farthest north in Maine that the disease has been detected.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system and usually is fatal once symptoms are evident, according to a Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife press release. The disease can be prevented in humans if treatment is sought immediately after exposure.
The DIF&W reported Monday that the incident occurred on April 24 in Masardis, about 10 miles south of Ashland. The dog was up-to-date on its rabies shots and there was no human exposure, according to the department.
The case marked the second instance of a raccoon variant of rabies being reported in Aroostook County in 2009. Maine reported 71 cases of rabies in 2008 and 20 cases so far this year, with most of the incidents in southern and central parts of the state.
The raccoon strain of rabies, which state biologists say is of particular concern because a large raccoon population can be found in agricultural and residential areas, first appeared in Maine in 1994 and in Aroostook County in 2007.
Because most rabies cases are found in wild animals such as raccoons, bats and skunks, biologists suggest keeping pets up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations, feeding pets indoors, and securing garbage cans and other food sources where animals cannot get at them, according to the release.
Biologists also caution residents about feeding, touching or adopting wild animals, or transporting them from one area to another.
DIF&W indicated it would continue to watch for additional rabid animals in the northern Maine area over the summer and fall.
If a wild animal is not acting the way you think it should, do not handle it, stay clear, and call the nearest Maine Warden Service office. If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and contact your doctor and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Augusta, 800-821-5821, for advice.