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Rabid foxes found in Iqaluit, where dog tested positive, and in Arctic Bay

A public health advisory warns that a small white husky who was often loose in Iqaluit has tested positive for rabies, and infected foxes have been found both in Iqaluit and Arctic Bay.

Small white husky in beach area of Iqaluit tested positive; watch your dogs for signs of odd behaviour

Iqaluit's beach in spring of 2016. A public health advisory warns that a small white husky who was often loose in the area has tested positive for rabies, and asks others to watch their dogs for signs of odd behaviour. (submitted by Danielle Samson)

A dog that was frequently off leash in Iqaluit's beach front area has tested positive for rabies. 

The dog was tested after it began acting aggressively, according to a public health advisory issued by the Nunavut Department of Health on Friday morning. 

The small white husky was five to six months old and often loose in lower Iqaluit at the beach front. Anyone who had contact with the dog is asked to go to Qikiqtani General Hospital immediately for rabies treatment. 

Later Friday morning, the Department of Health issued a notice that a rabid fox has been trapped and killed outside city limits, and anyone who has been bitten or scratched by a fox or dog should also immediately go to the hospital.

The department said another fox in Arctic Bay, where a fox had exhibited aggressive behaviour at the end of December, has also tested positive for rabies. The fox with rabies had come into contact with a team of sled dogs, and all the sled dogs are being monitored for rabies. Again, anyone bitten or scratched by a fox or dog should go to the health centre immediately.

The news comes about two weeks after Nunavut's Department of Health warned of "increased fox activity" in the city and asked people to watch their dogs for unusual behaviour, including dogs who spend most of their time tied up outdoors.

Fox sightings have been common in the capital since at least October, and two foxes in the city tested positive for rabies in November and December. 

The public health advisory is the latest in a series of rabies alerts issued in Nunavut this winter. 

Two foxes in Igloolik have tested positive for rabies. One Igloolik woman also underwent a round of rabies treatment at the local health centre after an aggressive fox bit her. The animal appeared "from nowhere," the woman told Nunatsiaq News in December. (She also said the treatment was not painful.)

Earlier this week, people in Sanikiluaq were warned of an aggressive fox and asked to be on the lookout for strange behavior in dogs, which could be infected. 

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

Foxes with rabies may also appear friendly, the department warns. 

If you see a fox or wolf in Iqaluit, or your dog has had contact with one, call the regional environmental health officer at 867-645-6660 or conservation officer at 867-975-7780. 

Rabies is almost always fatal in humans if not treated immediately, and health centres are equipped to handle the disease.

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