A fox that bit 3 dogs is being tested for rabies

The red fox and gray foxes are common in New Jersey

They generally stay away from humans

SUMMIT — A fox believed to be connected to three encounters with dogs on Monday has been killed and taken for a rabies test.

Summit's Animal Control and Health Department said dogs were bit on Mountain Avenue near Tulip Street and a third on Dale Drive. Summit police killed the fox Tuesday morning and turned it over to the Westfield Regional Health Department for the test.

The owner of the dog could not determine if the animal was a fox or coyote.

Police said none of the dogs were seriously injured.

The Health Department said the fox was likely rabid and advised residents to be cautious while outside until the test results come back on Wednesday. If an animal shows signs of aggression, appears sick or unafraid of humans, stay away and report it immediately to the Summit Police non-emergency line at 908-273-0051.

Rabies is caused by a virus that can infect all warm-blooded mammals, including humans. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of a rabid animal and is transmitted by bite, or possibly by contamination of an open cut. Raccoon and bat variants of rabies are prevalent in New Jersey but it can also be found in skunks, groundhogs, foxes and cats.

Red fox
Red fox (NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife)

Foxes not unusual in New Jersey

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said there are two foxes most common in the in state, the gray fox and red fox.

Foxes, especially red foxes, commonly live in close association with human residences and communities. They frequently inhabit yards, parks, and golf courses, especially areas that adjoin suitable, undeveloped habitat.

The good news is that healthy foxes pose virtually no danger to humans. Foxes can grow accustomed to human activity but are seldom aggressive toward people. Expanding housing development, particularly in historically rural areas, increases the chances of interactions between humans and foxes, as well as other wildlife.

The Middlesex County Health Department shared these guidelines to prevent rabies during an outbreak in 2018.

1. Immediately report a bite from a wild or domestic animal to your local health department. Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible. Contamination of open cuts and scratches with saliva of potentially rabid animals should also be washed off immediately.

2. Consult a physician as soon as possible.

3. Immediately report any wild animals showing signs of unusual behavior:

• Moves slowly
• May act as if tame
• Appears sick
• Has problems swallowing
• Has an increase in saliva
• Has increased drooling
• Acts aggressive
• Has difficulty moving
• Has paralysis
• Bites at everything if excited

4. Be sure that all family pets are up to date on their rabies vaccination. If unsure, please call your veterinarian. Call your local health department for free rabies vaccination clinic availability.

5. Animal-proof your home and yard. Make sure all garbage containers have tight fitting lids, do not leave pet food or water outside, do not allow rainwater to collect in outdoor containers or equipment and keep yard free of garbage and debris.

6. Do not feed or handle wild animals.

7. Avoid contact with stray animals or pets other than your own.

8. Try to prevent your pets from coming into contact with wild animals.

9. Screen off vents to attics and other areas that could provide shelter for bats.

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