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Fox slain by police confirmed as rabid

Buffalo News,   September 20, 2008  by Irene Liguori

       An Erie County health official confirmed Friday that a fox shot and killed Wednesday by police near Amherst State Park has tested positive for rabies. A fox bit two women Tuesday in separate incidents in or near the park. "It is not a red fox. It is a gray fox," said Peter J. Tripi, senior health sanitarian and head of the county's vector control program, said of the fox that tested positive Friday in Albany. "They are notorious for exhibiting aggressive rabies symptoms. They attack."

       A woman taking photographs in the park, south of Sheridan Drive and west of Evans Street, was bitten on the leg Tuesday afternoon by a fox who ran toward her near Reist Street.

       About five hours later, an elderly woman sitting on a bench was bitten by a fox when the animal jumped onto her lap and snapped at her.

       Both women have begun treatment for rabies, Tripi confirmed. He said he would not be surprised if the Health Department ended up with additional animals testing positive in the park's vicinity. "Don't be afraid to go out," Tripi cautioned. "Just be aware of your surroundings."

       He repeated Amherst police warnings to be aware of any wild animal acting strangely.

       "Rabid animals can be aggressive or docile," Tripi said. "Don't touch wild or unfamiliar animals. View them from afar."

       Any contact with a wild animal, by people or pets, should be reported to the Health Department at 961-6800.

       The fox in the park is the second among 22 animals to test positive for rabies this year in the county, Tripi said. The other infected animals have ranged from a cow to domestic cats, bats, skunks and raccoons.

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