Three people have been attacked by foxes in Downtown Charlottesville in the last three weeks. The latest incident occurred March 18 when a fox bit a woman’s leg.
Officials are concerned the foxes may be carriers of rabies.
Michele Napper, Thomas Jefferson Health District rabies program coordinator, said there have not been any positive rabies tests as of yet.
The department had a fox sent to the lab to be tested for rabies March 18 but are still awaiting the results of the test, Napper said.
City Spokesperson Miriam Dickler said these behaviors are an isolated incident and have not occurred near Grounds.
“[This] is not common,” Dickler said. “The health department and the police department are working to figure out what exactly is happening, but that does not mean that there aren’t cases of animals who have health conditions, including rabies, throughout our area.”
The beginning of spring marks the start of mating season for wild animals, including foxes, Napper said.
“A lot of them are out looking for new homes and porches [and spaces like that] are very great hiding places, especially if they have young and they are trying to protect them. So you will see them out a lot more,” Napper said.
Although no foxes or attacks have been reported near Grounds, students are still advised to exercise caution when encountering wildlife and stray animals.
Napper said one safety measure people can take when encountering wildlife is to call animal control when an animal is spotted nearby, especially if they are exhibiting strange or sick behaviors.
Pets are at risk of wild animal attacks, as well.
“Definitely … make sure to have [your] pet vaccinated and do not put food out for wild animals,” Napper said. “Do not feed them [and] if you do have pets, do not leave their food outside to attract wild animals.”
Dickler said people should head indoors if an animal is behaving strangely.
“At those times where any animal is behaving strangely, our recommendations are [to] get away from it, get inside, stay inside and alert the appropriate authorities,” Dickler said.
The Charlottesville Police Department said suspicious animal behavior should be reported to Animal Control, according to a media release. If someone experiences an emergency situation or if an animal is in direct sight, they should call 911.