APPLETON, Maine — The gray fox that attacked two Appleton men this weekend has tested positive for rabies, according to state authorities.
The Maine Center for Disease Control will be contacting both victims to make sure they are doing the rabies post-exposure protocol, Heidi Blood, animal control officer for Appleton, said Tuesday afternoon.
The fox, which had been spotted in the neighborhood prior to the weekend, attacked, but did not bite, Donald Burke while he was walking his dog, Bella, on Appleton Ridge on Sunday. Burke went back home to warn his neighbors, and while he was alerting the family across the street about the fox, it showed up in the yard.
“We were talking. I was holding my kid,” Josh Coleman said. “I looked over, and it was right there, acting weird.”
He went inside to grab a gun to shoot the fox, but it didn’t die right away.
“It started running at me, which is a little shocking,” Coleman said. “It bit my leg.”
He shot it again, finally killing the fox.
“It’s pretty crazy — it was not fearful at all,” Coleman said.
His family had been all too aware of the fox before Sunday, because they believe it killed five of their six chickens a couple of days earlier.
“We didn’t know the fox was rabid,” he said.
Rabies, a disease that’s caused by a virus, affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause death if left untreated. It is spread when a rabid animal bites or scratches a person or animal, or if the animal’s saliva or neural tissue comes in contact with a person or animal’s mouth, nose or eyes, or enters a cut in the skin, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Coleman said he went to the emergency room shortly after being bitten to start the rabies protocol, which he described as being “a bunch of shots.”
“It barely got me, but better safe than sorry,” he said.