CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — Where a Cape Elizabeth man expected to feel laundry Saturday morning, he felt teeth, police say.
“I’m not sure exactly what he was doing — whether he was loading up the machine or not — but the victim put his hand inside the washing machine and was bitten by a bat,” said Ed Hunt, Cape Elizabeth public safety clerk.
Hunt said that the washing machine bat and another captured in South Portland recently were transported Tuesday morning to Augusta to be tested for rabies. South Portland Animal Control Officer Corey Hamilton is contracted to cover Cape Elizabeth as well, Hunt said.
The Portland Press Herald reported Tuesday evening that state officials said the tests came back negative for rabies.
Police declined to identify the man whose hand was bitten by a bat in his washing machine. Hunt said the man, who lives in the Shore Road area, was advised to call his primary care physician in the aftermath of the incident, as is standard procedure after an animal bite.
According to the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention, 550 bats were tested for rabies between 2010 and 2012, but only 15 of the creatures — exactly five each year — tested positive.
Across all animal species in Maine, 1,856 were tested for rabies during that three-year stretch, with 219 coming back positive. Between 70 percent and 80 percent of the animals annually transported to Augusta for testing during those years were skunks and raccoons.
Less than two weeks before the washing machine incident, South Portland had another case of suspected rabies, although in that scenario, the tests came back positive.
On July 30, Hamilton caught and dispatched a fox that had terrorized the Long Creek and Clarks Pond area of South Portland with five attacks on people within a six-hour period.
The fox was finally trapped in an enclosed foyer area at 210 Western Ave., after chasing a man into the building just before noon that day.
Hamilton responded to the scene, captured the fox in a noose, took it into the woods and shot it.
The animal had previously attacked at least four other people that day. At approximately 6 a.m., it reportedly leaped into the cab of a pickup truck at the South Portland Home Depot and bit the arm of a contractor.
Within the following hour, police received reports that a fox had also attacked a jogger on the Clarks Pond walking trails and two homeless individuals camped out in the Long Creek area.
One of the homeless victims bitten by the fox was transported to Maine Medical Center for treatment, according to police.