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Rabid fox attacks three people in Oswego County

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When George Stevens walked outside into his backyard last Wednesday, he felt something bite him in the back of the leg. When he turned around, he was eye-to-eye with an aggressive gray fox.

"After he bit me in the thigh he came back and latched on to my forearm. I picked my arm up in the air, and he's hanging off my arm, so I grabbed him by the middle of the back and ripped him loose," Stevens said.

His wife began to come outside when she heard the struggle, but Stevens yelled for her to stay inside the house.

"Scared the daylights out of me. I fell down at one point just trying to get my bearings about me. Then I'm just trying to defend myself and trying to get inside the house away from it," Stevens said.

Once he got back inside the fox made its way to his neighbor's house where it attacked another man. Those neighbors believe the fox was living under a nearby shed before it began to act strange.

Eventually, the fox attacked a third man who shot the animal.

Days later, the Oswego County Health Department revealed the fox had tested positive for rabies.

Stevens and his neighbor are being treated with a series of shots.

"Two in each side and one in each arm. After that, it's a total of four single shots over a period of time. Every three or four days you go for another one," he said.

It's a painful reminder to keep an eye out for animals acting out of the ordinary.

"When they're approaching you and then especially attacking like that, or just acting strange, you have to be cautious because it very well could have rabies," Stevens said.

To report a possible exposure, call the Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3564. In an emergency during evenings, weekends, or holidays, call the department’s answering service at 315-341-0086.

Rabies clinics continue at the following locations this year:

  • West Monroe: Wednesday, June 6, 6 to 8 p.m. Town Highway Garage, 46 County Rte. 11.
  • Hannibal: Wednesday, July 11, 6 to 8 p.m. Town Highway Garage, 68 Cemetery Drive.
  • Volney: Wednesday, Aug. 8, 6 to 8 p.m. Bristol Hill Landfill maintenance building, 3125 NYS Rte. 3.
  • Pulaski: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 6 to 8 p.m. County Highway Garage, 957 Centerville Road.
  • Scriba: Wednesday, Nov. 7, 6 to 8 p.m. County Highway Garage, 31 Schaad Drive.

Dogs, cats, and ferrets should receive their first rabies vaccine at three months of age. Ferrets must be vaccinated annually. Dogs and cats require a second vaccination within one year of the first, and every three years after that. In order for pets to receive the three-year booster shot, owners need to show that their pet was previously vaccinated. Owners should bring their pet’s last rabies vaccination certificate with them to the clinic.

The health department suggests a $7 donation per animal to help cover the cost of the rabies clinics, but no one will be turned away. Dogs should be leashed. Cats and pet ferrets should be in a carrier. Please leave sick pets at home.

To reduce the risk of rabies in animals and humans, people should take the following steps:

  • Do not feed pets outdoors.
  • Never try to feed a wild animal.
  • Do not approach or touch unfamiliar animals.
  • Avoid any animal with symptoms of rabies.
  • Block any openings into the home that an animal may get through.
  • Keep tamper-proof lids on outside garbage cans so animals are not attracted to your property.
  • Teach children basic rules about protecting themselves from strange and unfamiliar animals.
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For more information on rabies click here.

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