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North Augusta fox attacks, ill puppy stir rabies concerns in CSRA

(CHARLOTTE OBSERVER FILE PHOTO | CHARLOTTE OBSERVER FILE PHOTO)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 11:55 AM EDT
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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Two fox attacks and one encounter in a North Augusta neighborhood this week are keeping authorities and residents on high alert.

Officials are concerned the aggressive fox may have rabies — a worry that comes against the backdrop of an urgent alert about a rabid puppy that may have had contact with 25 people and six other dogs in the area.

Earlier this week, we told you about a Hammond Hill neighborhood resident’s encounter with a fox who trotted away with their cellphone. Now authorities are reporting two other residents in the same neighborhood had more violent encounters.

At 9:43 p.m. Wednesday, a 68-year-old man went to a hospital after he was bitten by a fox in Hammond Hill.

Thursday at 7 a.m., the North Augusta Department of Public Safety responded to a home in the general area where a dog was bitten by a fox.

Authorities were able to locate and euthanize the fox on scene of the attack. Its body being submitted for testing to determine whether it was rabid.

The bitten dog is expected to recover. It was up to date on its rabies vaccination, authorities confirm.

This North Augusta dog was bitten by a rabid fox. Luckily the dog's rabies vaccination was up...
This North Augusta dog was bitten by a rabid fox. Luckily the dog's rabies vaccination was up to date.(WRDW)

A North Augusta Animal Control spokesman said they are close to certain the man and the dog were bitten by the same fox. However, they aren’t sure if this is the same fox who stole a resident’s cellphone.

The North Augusta Department of Public Safety is increasing patrols in the Hammond Hill neighborhood in response to these recent reports.

Rabid puppy spurs alert

The reports of the fox attack come a day after the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control issued an urgent alert seeking people who may have had contact with a rabid puppy.

The tan-and-white pit bull puppy was about 7 weeks old and weighed about 5 pounds. DHEC reported the puppy was born in Edgefield County, near Lanier Road in Johnston. It and a littermate were taken to Augusta from July 14-17. Staff have learned that both puppies were brought to a gathering in Clearwater around the same time. The littermate is unaccounted for and was allegedly given away during the gathering. The rabid puppy was later taken to a birthday party in Florence.

Anyone who came into contact with the puppy’s saliva may have been exposed to rabies and should seek medical attention.

Anyone who attended the Clearwater gathering or who may have had or is in contact with the littermate puppy should contact their health care provider and DHEC’s Environmental Affairs Aiken office at 803-642-1637 or Florence office at 843-661-4825 during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) or after-hours and on holidays at 888-847-0902 (Select Option 2).

Residents are reminded not to approach foxes or wildlife. Pet owners are urged to get their pets vaccinated for rabies to significantly decrease a pet’s chances of catching the disease if bitten.

There have been 47 cases of rabid animals statewide this year. Since 2002, South Carolina has averaged approximately 148 positive cases a year.

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