Fox that bit congressman, 8 others, in Washington had rabies

Health

Authorities capture fox attacking people on Capitol Hill

(NewsNation) — A fox seen around Capitol Hill that bit a congressman and reporter on Tuesday was rabid, according to a spokesperson for D.C. Health.

The fox had been captured and euthanized in order to be tested for rabies, D.C. Health confirmed to NewsNation Wednesday.

Altogether, Capitol Police said, the fox nipped at around half a dozen people. D.C. Health said she was responsible for nine confirmed bites. D.C. Health is working to contact all human victims who were bitten by the fox, and those bitten are expected to begin rabies protocols.

Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., said on Twitter that he was bitten by the fox, but feels “no grudge or ill will” against her.

“All of a sudden, I felt something kind of lunge at the back of my ankle, calf area,” Bera recalled. When he turned around, he thought the animal that bit him would be a small dog.

According to The Washington Post, Bera said he has begun a series of 10 shots, including immunoglobulin shots and a tetanus shot, to combat the disease in case he was exposed.

The fox, an adult female, and her kits, or baby foxes, were found and captured Wednesday morning, D.C. Health said. On Thursday, D.C. Health said since the kits could have been exposed to rabies during grooming or other means, they “were no longer able to be safely rehabilitated” and were euthanized as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, to test for rabies, tissue from at least two locations in the brain, preferably the brain stem and cerebellum, are used, which is why the animal needs to be euthanized.

“No other foxes were found on the Capitol Hill grounds, but it would not be uncommon to see more as there are many present throughout the District,” D.C. Health said.

D.C. Health will not be rounding up healthy foxes in the area, the spokesperson said. It only intervenes to remove wildlife when sick, injured, or if they had exposure to humans and rabies testing was warranted.

One of those bitten was a Politico reporter later interviewed by NewsNation.

“A fox nipped me in the ankle. It felt like a cat or a small dog were to nip your ankle,” she said. “I did not think that would happen here.”

Those who encounter an aggressive, sick, or injured fox can contact D.C.’s Animal Control at 202-723-5730. Anyone who came into physical contact with the fox should call D.C. Health at 202-442-9143.

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