Most of the diseases transmitted by foxes to people and pets are easily treatable. For instance, although worldwide rabies causes tens of thousands of human deaths each year (see the section on rabies or the World Rabies Day website), rabies can be effectively treated. Other diseases such as echinococcosis in humans and the heartworm Angiostrongylus vasorum in dogs are a health concern.
While treating rabies, toxocariasis and canine heartworm disease (Dirofilaria immitis) is generally successful, prevention of these diseases is not only possible but much simpler, safer and more economical. Rabies vaccines are effective in preventing infection with this virus. Parasite prevention is effectively achieved by regularly de-worming your pet with a product suggested by your veterinarian. There are a variety of options for preventing parasite infection; ask your veterinarian for advice.
If you suspect you have been exposed or infected by any parasite, seek medical help. The following links are for information only:
- Human health:
- World Health Organization - Post-exposure treatment for rabies
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA - Post-exposure treatment for rabies
- National Health Service, UK - Toxocariasis treatment
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA - Toxocariasis treatment
- Pet health:
- American Heartworm Society, USA - Canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) treatment in dogs
- Department of Natural Resources, Michigan, USA - Treating mange in pets
- Pet Education (commercial website) - Treating mange in dogs
- Pet Shed (commercial website) - Treating mange in dogs
Treating mangy foxes
Foxes heavily infected with mange (scientific name Sarcoptes scabiei) suffer from fur-loss and develop a thick crust of parasite wastage on the skin surface and proteins that exude from the damaged skin. The most common areas of the body affected are those that come into contact during grooming and whilst communicating (sniffing other foxes belonging to the same group) such as the tail, the rump but also the muzzle.
However, not all scruffy looking foxes have mange. When moulting, a fox's coat looks very tatty so a fox in moult can be confused for a mangy fox. For more information on mangy foxes and treatments, visit the following websites:
- Derbyshire Fox Rescue, UK
- Bellamy, R. & Salmon, R. (1999) Risk of importation of diseases exotic to Great Britain following the relation of quarantine regulations. Quarterly Journal of Medicine 92, 683-687.
- Deplazes, P., Hegglin, D., Gloor, S. & Romig, T. (2004) Wilderness in the city: the urbanization of Echinoccocus multilocularis. Trends in Parasitology 20, 77-84.
- Ferasin, L. (2004) Disease risks for the travelling pet: heartworm disease. In Practice 26, 350-357.
- Morgan, E.R., Shaw, S.E., Brennan, S.F., De Waal, T., Jones, B.R. & Mulcahy, G. (2005) Angiostrongylus vasorum: a real heartbreaker. Trends in Parasitology 21, 49 - 51.
- Ridyard, A. (2005) Heartworm and lungworm in dogs and cats in the UK. In Practice 27, 147-153.