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Possible Rabid Fox Charges at Mendon Officer

A Mendon policeman is receiving a series of Tetanus shots as a precaution after a fox potentially suffering from rabies charged at the officer on September 3. During an interview several days later, Police Lt. Don Blanchette stated the fox is still on the loose. A reverse 911 call was sent out to warn residents in the area.

The Police Department received calls from residents concerning the fox, which was seen near the Hopedale town line on Route 16. Answering the call, a Mendon officer located the fox at a resident's home. He got out of his cruiser and as he approached the fox and the animal charged at him. "It all happened very fast," said Blanchette.

A video of the fox running toward the officer, who is out-of-view, can be viewed on the newly created Mendon Mass. Public Safety Facebook page created by resident Mike Watson.

Rabies is an infection of the nervous system which can be contracted when an infected animal bites another animal or person. Animals which have contracted rabies suffer deterioration of the brain and therefore tend to behave unusually.

Blanchette said certain signals should warn residents if an animal could be suffering from rabies. "A fox is a nocturnal animal. When it's seen during the day, that's a red flag," he said. Other signs of rabies include unprovoked aggression, or unusual friendliness. Rabid animals may also stumble, fall, or appear disoriented. "It almost looks like they're drunk," said Blanchette. Still, there is only one conclusive way to verify an animal has rabies and that is to identify the rabies virus in the brain tissue after the animal is dead.

More than 90 percent of rabies cases reported in the United States are found in wild animals with raccoons being the most common carriers; besides foxes—bats, skunks, and coyotes also carry the disease. Dogs, cats, horses, cows, sheep and goats are domesticated animals and may also contract rabies. As a result, animal owners are strongly encouraged to vaccinate their pets against the rabies virus.

Blanchette said any resident spotting a potential rabid animal is encouraged to call the Police Department immediately. If an individual thinks they may have been exposed to rabies but are not certain, it is best to begin treatment right away. Rabies is fatal if it reaches the brain. Blanchette stated the Mendon officer began his series of vaccinations immediately, "and never missed a day of work," he said.


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