Fox hunters urged to take rabies vaccine

Arctic fox rabiesArctic fox.Photo:

Fox hunters urged to take rabies vaccine on Svalbard

The Governor of Svalbard urges everyone to get a rabies shot. The reason is that several cases of rabies on Svalbard have been detected this year.


Earlier this spring, a fox attacked several dogs and was subsequently found to be infected by rabies. The virus has since been found in three dead foxes and in one reindeer, writes the local newspaper Svalbardposten.

All permanent residents of Svalbard can apply for participation in the fox hunt lasting from November 1st to March 15th. Because of the rabies cases, the Governor of Svalbard is now asking everyone attending this year’s hunt to get a shot beforehand. There are 25 licenses handed out, each for a maximum of 3 traps.

– We want people to take precautions. At the same time you should wear heavy gloves when you remove the animal from the trap, wrap the carcass in plastic when transporting it on snowmobiles and disinfect the equipment afterwards, says Advisor at the Governor’s Environmental Department, Gustav Busch Arntsen.

Rabies is a highly deadly viral disease that attacks the nervous system in warm-blooded animals, and can therefore also infect humans, according to Folkehelseinstituttet (Norwegian Public Health Institute). It can, however, (virtually) not be transmitted from one human to another. The infection has not spread to mainland Norway but is occasionally found on Svalbard.

Facts about rabies

The disease is caused by the rabies virus which is of the genus lyssavirus and in the family Rhabdoviridae.

Seven different serotypes of the virus are described. Genotype 1 is the classic virus that occurs all over the world and is especially associated with dog and fox. Rabies occurs in all continents except the Antarctic.

The disease occurs in industrialised countries mainly in canine wildlife, eg. foxes and bats, and the virus can spread to livestock and humans. Cattle and horses can become infected, but virtually never transmits it to humans.

In low-income countries, the disease occurs predominantly in dogs (including puppies) and spread to humans through dog bites.

There is a vaccine available for pre-exposure vaccination (vaccination prior to infection) and post-exposure prophylaxis (treatment after a possible infection).


© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today