A fox tried to attack at least three people in the dense Topsham Heights neighborhood Saturday before a Middle Street resident shot the animal after it chased him into his home.

The fox had porcupine quills in its face, which Topsham Police Sgt. Mark Gilliam said is a telltale sign that the animal was likely rabid, as healthy animals normally would not attack porcupines.

The police got their first complaint about the fox hiding under a porch on Cameron Way off Winter Street at 10:17 a.m.

About 45 minutes later police and a Maine game warden were called to Western Avenue after the gray fox attacked a dog and a 69-year-old man.

Police said the man’s skin wasn’t punctured — according to the CDC, rabies can be transmitted through saliva if an infected animal breaks the skin of another animal or person.

By 11:18 a.m. police were called to Bauer Lane where the fox attacked a dog and a 57-year-old woman. Although the animal attack didn’t appear to break the skin, Gilliam said the woman went to the hospital to be evaluated as a precaution.

The fox continued through the neighborhood, scratching at the back door of a home on A Street.

Gilliam said the fox then chased a man into his home on Middle Street, who shot the animal with a gun after it charged him. That was at around 1 p.m.

The fox was taken to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Augusta to be tested for rabies.

Rabies is a viral disease transmitted primarily through bites and exposure to saliva or spinal fluid from an infected animal. It infects the nervous system of mammals, making the infected animal unusually aggressive. Vaccines are completely effective in humans, but rabies is fatal if left untreated.

A rabid fox also attacked a Mallett Drive resident in Topsham on April 4. It was the fourth fox attack in Topsham in two weeks. Police investigated a fox attack on a person on March 22 at the Topsham Fairgrounds. That fox was killed by police, but not tested because the person involved was not injured.

There were other fox attacks on dogs around Winter and Summer streets later that same week. Police were unable to locate that fox.

Topsham residents were asked to contact police at (207) 725-4337 if they or their pets come into contact with a wild animal acting strangely and to make sure they keep their animals’ rabies vaccinations up to date.

Gilliam said Saturday that residents should be diligent when on walks and keep their pets leashed.

Gilliam also cautioned residents about shooting at wild animals within neighborhoods due to safety concerns.

The southern Midcoast region saw its first rabid fox encounter of 2021 in January when a fox tried to bite two children in their West Point Road backyard in Phippsburg before it was killed.

Incidents of rabid animals attacking people and pets in the region rose sharply in 2018, when there were nine attacks in Brunswick.

No animals have tested positive for rabies in Brunswick this year according to the Maine CDC, which hasn’t updated rabies data since March 31. However, a woman in Brunswick was attacked by a fox on March 26 before the animal was killed with the help of neighbors. That fox was not tested.

Bath saw a rabies surge in 2019 and early 2020, with 18 people and pets attacked by rabid animals.


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