A fox suspected of having rabies attacked at least three people in a town near Brunswick, Maine, on Saturday until it was shot.
The Topsham police said they got multiple calls about an aggressive fox starting on Saturday morning.
The grey fox attacked at least two different people that were walking with their dogs and then chased another man into his house, the Times Record reported. That man shot the animal with a gun, killing it.
One of the people attacked by the fox, a 57-year-old woman, went to the hospital to be evaluated, the newspaper reported.
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Rabies is transmitted through saliva if an infected animal bites a person or an animal and breaks the skin, the newspaper reported. The virus infects the nervous system of mammals. Infected animals often act aggressively.
Vaccines are completely effective in humans, but rabies is fatal if left untreated, the newspaper reported.
Saturday's attack is the latest of five that all happened in the past three weeks, according to Topsham’s police chief, Marc Hagan. The fox will be tested for rabies at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hagan said the animal had quills in its face, indicating that the fox had attacked a porcupine, which is an unusual behavior for foxes associated with rabies.
“We’re concerned, we can’t just count on it going away,” he said, explaining that the attacks are similar to ones that have occurred in the past in nearby Brunswick and Bath and that foxes in Topsham can live in the towns numerous gullies that run through populated neighborhoods.
“You have to pay attention to children if they’re out in the yard,” he added,” saying that police also suggest people “get pets vaccinated, keep them on leases and pay attention what’s going on in their yards.”
On Tuesday afternoon, some people using walking trails in Topsham Heights were seen carrying sticks to defend themselves in case of a rabid animal attack.
While she does not live in that neighborhood, one person who is being extra vigilant is Amy Goode. She was out in her yard Tuesday, a little more than two weeks after she was attacked by a rabid fox outside of her home on Mallett Drive.
“At first I thought it was a cat, but as soon as I realized it was a fox I started kicking it and hitting it with my loppers,” she explained.
However, the fox just “coming after me over and over,” she said, adding that it “got a hold of my pants.”
“I fell over eventually and I have a gap in my memory from when I was on the ground to when I had it pinned... was strangling it and secured it with my knees until police arrived,” she said.
Goode’s neighbor had called 911 and she sought medical attention for a scratch that she discovered later that day.
She says she believes self-defense training helped her walk away from the situation relatively unscathed, though the most recent attack and the positive rabies test that came back from the fox that attacked her did rekindle some of her caution and concern.
Her main message for others concerned about rabies is, “be aware of your surroundings.”
“Pay attention to the news, get involved with local Facebook groups -- the community is doing a good job letting each other know when they’re seeing foxes,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.