Officials: Fox that bit three children tests positive for rabies

Officials: Fox that bit three children tests positive for rabies

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Officials say an aggressive fox that bit a middle school girl and two preschoolers in Charlotte earlier this week has tested positive for rabies.

The middle schooler, an 11-year-old girl, was watching football practice at Kennedy Middle School around 6:40 p.m. when she was bitten by the fox, police say. Officers responded to the call and found the aggressive fox under the bleachers.

An officer shot the fox with a shotgun after it attacked police as they were attempting to capture it, officials say. The fox's body was taken to be tested for rabies by Animal Care and Control.

Thursday afternoon, Animal Care and Control officials said the rabies tests results from the state lab tested positive for rabies.

According to Animal Care and Control, there have now been 15 confirmed positive cases of rabies in Mecklenburg County in the first nine months of 2015. There have been nine raccoons, three foxes, two bats and a skunk that tested positive for rabies.

In addition, officials say an adult reported being scratched at the middle school as he was trying to fend off the fox.

"This is kind of an anomaly this would happen. Typically, wildlife as you know is afraid of you," said Melissa Knicely with Animal Care and Control.

Officers also believe the fox bit two preschoolers earlier in the day at Primrose School of Lake Wylie at Steele Creek, on West Arrowood Road.

The Mecklenburg Health Department has confirmed that all exposed victims have contacted by the Health Department and they have all started Post-Exposure prevention.

The owner of the school, which is also a daycare, Barry Mahal says the attack happened on the playground.  Somehow the fox was able to get in between the fence's metal bars.  Mahal said the teachers are heroes.

"As the fox tried to bite the children, they ended up beating or kicking the fox to get it away from the children after it lunged out at the children," Mahal said. "These are wild animals and that's the main thing about a wild animal they're unpredictable.  When you see a wild animal keep your distance.  So we're using it as a learning opportunity."

Prior to the attacks the fox was napping close to the school, that's unusual.  Knicely explained if wildlife is not running away from you that's a sign something is wrong.

"The best thing for you to do is to get you, your pets, get them inside to safety and definitely make a call to report the fact that it's wildlife behaving oddly," Knicely said.

Animal care and control says rabies is in the county and says all pets are required to get a rabies shot after they're 4 months old.

Animal care and control provides free rabies vaccinations to Mecklenburg County resident's pets every second Saturday of the month at Animal Care & Control 8315 Byrum Drive – Charlotte.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said a internal investigation is being conducted on the shooting of the animal, which is standard procedure.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said Wednesday that all students at the middle school will do outdoor activities, PE and sports practices inside after the incident.  Mahal said kids won't go back out onto the playground until next week.


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