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Rabid fox bites child in Southern Maine

August 8, 2002

By MEREDITH GOAD, Blethen Maine Newspapers

CAPE ELIZABETH — A rabid gray fox bit a 2-year-old girl at the Funny Farm day-care center on Old Ocean House Road late Tuesday afternoon.

The fox unexpectedly jumped out of some nearby brush and charged a group of six children, grabbing the toddler by her right arm as her day-care provider was trying to whisk her inside. The girl has begun rabies treatments.

"When I scooped her up, (the fox) attached itself to her arm and was biting her arm," said Lisa Rockwell, director and one of the owners of the day-care center. "It was shaking around, it was really trying to shake her. So I took the little girl and I just kept spinning her around, spinning her around to see if it would get off. It was pretty relentless, but it finally got off her, and then it started to charge the other children that were out there."

None of the other children was bitten, but all of their parents have been notified and told to consult their physicians because of possible exposure to the animal's saliva.

State health officials said the attack was extremely unusual.

"This was a fairly sudden and dramatic situation, and it sounds like there may have been some exposure to other kids in the area, as well as an adult or two," said Geoff Beckett, assistant state epidemiologist at the Maine Bureau of Health.

Beckett said epidemiologists are working with the children's families and their medical providers to determine whether rabies shots are needed.

Rockwell said she and another teacher were immunized Tuesday night, along with the little girl who was bitten and her sister. She said she thinks that all of the children who were exposed will be taking the shots.

Copyright 2001 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

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