Last Friday, a single fox reportedly bit six individuals in Brighton, New York. The Brighton Police Department announced the incident in a Tweet. “From an initial examination of the fox, it appears it was sick, but we don’t know if it was rabid or if it had mange,” Lt. Timothy Karch told News10NBC.
According to Rochester First, neighbors had called and alerted the police department to an aggressive family of foxes a week earlier, but at the time, the animals could not be located by the police. Neighbors were enjoying their Friday evening when the problem foxes reappeared, and one began biting neighbors. Shirley Jacobson told News 8 that she was just walking down her driveway when the fox bit her ankle. She has since undergone precautionary rabies shots and she will continue with another series. Another victim left the hospital in crutches but is expected to fully recover.
Initially, authorities were unsure if the attacks were from one fox, but Brighton Animal Control has now determined that all the attacks were linked to the same fox. The fox has been euthanized and is now being tested for diseases.
Rabid fox attacks are not unheard of. In August 2022, a woman was attacked by a rabid fox in upstate New York. The whole encounter was caught on video. And in April 2022, a fox on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. bit nine people. A California Congressman had to get a precautionary series of rabies shots. Unlike rabies, foxes with mange are not typically known to behave aggressively and do not pose a threat to human safety as long as direct contact is avoided.
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According to the CDC, foxes make up 7.2 percent of wild animals with rabies in the United States. Rabies is most commonly spread through animal bites and can also spread through claw marks. The virus impacts the central nervous system of mammals and leads to death once it infects the brain. If medical professionals determine that a rabies infection is a risk after potential exposure, prompt treatment with a vaccine is necessary.