Topsham police say a Mallett Drive resident was attacked by a fox Sunday morning.

According to Police Chief Marc Hagan, the resident “managed to get hold of the fox as it attacked and held it” until officers arrived and killed the animal.

No one was bitten during the incident, but the animal was sent by a game warden to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Augusta, where it tested positive for rabies.

This is the fourth fox attack in Topsham in the last two weeks, according to Hagan.

Police investigated a fox attack on a person on March 22 at the Topsham Fairgrounds. That fox was killed by police, but not tested because the person involved was not injured. There were other fox attacks on dogs around Winter and Summer streets later that same week. Police were unable to locate that fox.

Topsham residents are asked to contact police at (207) 725-4337 if they or their pets come into contact with a wild animal acting strangely and to make sure they keep their animals’ rabies vaccinations up to date.

Rabies is a viral disease transmitted primarily through bites and exposure to saliva or spinal fluid from an infected animal. It infects the nervous system of mammals, making the infected animal unusually aggressive. Vaccines are completely effective in humans, but rabies is fatal if left untreated.

The southern Midcoast saw its first rabid fox encounter of 2021 in January when a fox tried to bite two children in their West Point Road backyard in Phippsburg before it was killed. Until now, that was the only wildlife that has tested positive for rabies in Sagadahoc County this year, according to the Maine CDC.

Incidents of rabid animals attacking people and pets in the region rose sharply in 2018, when there were nine attacks in Brunswick.

No animals have tested positive for rabies in Brunswick this year. However, a woman in Brunswick was attacked by a fox March 26 before the animal was killed with the help of neighbors. That fox was not tested.

Bath saw rabies surge in  2019 and early 2020, with 18 people and pets attacked by rabid animals.

Maine wildlife biologist Scott Lindsay told The Times Record last month that fox sightings may be more common as the animals are emerging with their young. However, a fox that is acting more aggressive, trying to initiate contact with humans or acting lethargic is likely sick with rabies, distemper or another disease.

“If you see them and they start coming toward you and overtly attacking you, that is something that is generally not a defensive maneuver,” Lindsay said.


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