BATH — A 6-year-old girl is in good spirits after being bitten by a rabid fox in Bath, according to her mother.
Julia Davis was playing outside at a friend’s house at Bumpy Hill Road when a fox attacked, chasing her into the home, according to Bath Police Chief Michael Field.
“The male homeowner kicked the fox until it ran outside,” Field stated in a statement issued Friday morning.
The friend’s family dog, Socks, chased the fox and killed it.
Police said the fox was confirmed to have rabies on Thursday.
The dog’s vaccinations were up to date, but Julia is undergoing a series of shots because the fox bit the back of her leg, according to her mother, Kristie Davis.
Davis and her husband were returning from visiting family in Phippsburg when her friend called to tell them what happened.
“My husband stepped on it,” Davis said. “When we got there, (Julia) was sitting in a recliner with two paramedics and a cop next to her. She looked so grumpy. I said, ‘girlfriend, you look so angry.’ And she said, ‘Wouldn’t you be?’ That’s my girl.”
Davis said her daughter is doing well, and is proud of how well Julia has handled the situation.
“She’s a lot braver than I would have given her credit for,” Davis said.
Socks, a rescue dog, is also doing well, Davis said, and is being kept at home, where he is quarantined for 45 days.
“He’s such a wonderful dog,” Davis said, adding that her family will be traveling to a pet bakery in New Hampshire over the weekend to get treats for Socks.
During treatment in the emergency department, Davis said she told her daughter to keep her spirits up.
“When they ask you what you did this summer, how many people will have a story like this?” she said.
Julia will be entering second grade in the fall, and is already rehearsing what she’s going to tell her schoolmates.
“She’s been telling everyone” what happened, Davis said.
This is the sixth incidence of a known rabid animal in Bath since February.
As of July 23, 49 raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes have tested positive for rabies this year in 12 of Maine’s 16 counties.
There has been a surge of people who were treated for possible rabies exposure in the Midcoast. Ranjic Advani, president of Mid Coast Hospital’s medical staff, told The Times Record in July that the emergency department has treated anywhere from 10 to 30 people every year over the past decade for rabies exposure. In 2018, that surged to more than 50 patients treated for potential rabies exposure, he said.
Last year saw an increase of rabies incidents in Brunswick, where nine animals in Brunswick tested positive for rabies, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Seven people were attacked by rabid foxes there in 2018.
Another three animals tested positive for rabies last year in Lisbon, two in Bath, four in Bowdoin and one in West Bath. Statewide, a total of 101 animals tested positive for rabies by the Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory and USDA APHIS Wildlife Services. The majority were raccoons (51), skunks (25), gray foxes (9) and bats (12).
Rabies is a viral disease that infects the nervous system of mammals. It is transmitted primarily through bites from an infected animal. It attacks the nervous system, making the infected animal unusually aggressive and is fatal.
The United States Department of Agriculture is spreading more than 300,000 rabies vaccine baits in northern Maine to stem the occurrences of rabies there. The USDA says it is cost-prohibitive and not logistically feasible to drop the oral vaccination baits statewide.
Bath police are reminding the public to keep animals up to date on their vaccinations.
“If people see wildlife acting strangely, call the police,” Field stated. “Also, keep trash covered and secured, especially any with food waste. Lastly, we are hopeful this is an isolated incident and are happy that the little girl is recovering well.”