September 23, 2018
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Midcoast fox and skunk test positive for rabies

Pixabay | Stock Photo
Pixabay | Stock Photo
A fox that attacked three people in Brunswick on Friday, as well as a skunk found by an older woman in her Range Road yard on Saturday have tested positive for rabies, Brunswick Animal Control Officer Heidi Nelson said Tuesday.
By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff

A fox that attacked three people in Brunswick on Friday, as well as a skunk found by an older woman in her Range Road yard on Saturday have tested positive for rabies, Brunswick Animal Control Officer Heidi Nelson said Tuesday.

The woman found the skunk wandering in her yard Saturday morning and, using her bare hands, captured the skunk and put it in a box, Nelson said.

Game warden Evan Franklin shot the skunk and took it to Augusta for testing, which came back positive for rabies, according to Nelson.

Nelson was traveling to Augusta on Tuesday morning with the remains of two bats found in Brunswick homes during the weekend. While chances are slim the bats are rabid, Nelson said their teeth are so fine a person may not feel a bite so any bats found in homes are tested.

The most recent incidents follow a spate of animal attacks in Brunswick in recent weeks, involving four foxes and two skunks that have tested positive for rabies.

Three people including a 5-year-old girl were bitten Friday afternoon by a fox on Moody Road in Brunswick. That fox tested positive for rabies over the weekend.

On June 18, two residents of Woodland Drive were bitten by a gray fox, and earlier that week, two dogs on High Street were attacked by a skunk that was then quarantined; a 95-year-old Breckan Road man used a board to kill a rabid fox on June 25; and on June 29, a man gardening on Bouchard Drive was able to subdue an aggressive fox with a shovel without being exposed, police said at the time.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported two other attacks in the southern midcoast area in recent months, including a gray fox attack in Lisbon on July 18 and an attack by a rabid bat in Bowdoin in May.

Bath police shot a raccoon during the weekend because it appeared sick, Lt. Robert Savary said Monday, but the animal was not tested for rabies because no people had been exposed.

Maine state veterinarian Dr. Michele Walsh told the Associated Press that so far it’s been “a pretty average year for the incidents of rabies, the numbers of rabies-positive cases that we have this year.”

“We’re having a lot in a short period of time, so it’s sort of a cluster in town,” Nelson said. She theorizes that recent clearcutting and development have displaced animals that would typically wander into the woods to die if they became rabid but now encounter people and pets.

“I know of coyote and fox dens that have been displaced,” she said.

Nelson said she’s working with the Maine Warden Service, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to organize a public information session in Brunswick, but that details have not yet been worked out.

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