Alert issued after fox attacks

Animal has bitten 2 people and a dog in Timonium area

April 28, 2001|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County health officials and community leaders in the Timonium area are alerting residents to keep away from a mangy red fox that bit a child, an adult and a dog last weekend.

Health officials have been unable to catch the fox to determine whether it is rabid, so all three victims were given rabies shots this week, health officials said yesterday.

"This was one ugly fox," said Joanne Broccolino, a medical technologist who was bitten by the partly hairless animal while she planted marigolds in her front yard in the 2200 block of Spring Lake Drive on April 21.

Earlier that day, Broccolino said, she saw the fox bite a 3-year-old girl in a nearby yard.

"I heard a little girl screaming. ... The fox was standing on his legs, his paws on her shoulders, biting her neck," said Broccolino, whose barking dog appeared to distract the fox long enough for the girl to run for help.

A few hours later, about 7:30 p.m., Broccolino was gardening in her front yard.

"I'm down on one knee. I feel this tug from behind, and it was biting my left lower leg," she said. She picked up a shovel and struck the fox, but it would not let go.

When she got away and backed up into her garage, the fox came after her. She escaped into her house only after hitting the fox several times with a rake.

Broccolino said her wounds "are not too bad" because she was wearing long pants.

The regimen of rabies shots for people such as Broccolino, who might have been exposed to the disease, is much less invasive and painful than it used to be.

Gary Thompson, rabies coordinator for the Baltimore County Health Department, said people who are bitten receive five shots of rabies vaccine in the arm over 28 days and one shot of rabies immune globulin at the wound site.

Twenty years ago, said Thompson, bite victims got 21 to 26 abdominal injections.

On the same day Broccolino and the girl were bitten, a fox fitting the same description bit a dog owned by Betty Jeary of the 2300 block of Foxley Road, a few blocks away.

Jeary said she saw the fox biting her 12-pound Shih Tzu, Cali, on its neck and ears outside her home.

Jeary and her dog were able to run into the house, but the fox followed and tried to enter.

The dog, protected by rabies vaccine, got an extra shot and is taking penicillin for five or six bites, Jeary said.

Jeary said the Spring Lake Community Association posted fliers around the neighborhood reporting the attacks.

Marge DiNardo, vice president of the Pot Spring Community Association, said e-mails went out this week alerting Timonium residents and urging them to get their pets vaccinated for rabies.

Health officials Gary Thompson and George Elder said county workers set a trap for the fox but have not been able to catch it.

Anyone who finds or catches the fox should call Animal Control at 410-887-5961 or police at 911.

Baltimore County is offering $5 rabies shots for dogs, cats and ferrets at 11 locations next month and June. For information, call 410-887-2723.

Harford County is offering the shots from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow at the county health department in Bel Air, Susquehanna Hose Company in Havre de Grace, and the Whiteford and Abingdon fire stations. Other sites will offer the shots May 6. For information, call 410-638-8400.

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