Anecdotal evidence suggests that rabid foxes are more likely to attack humans than are other rabid terrestrial animals. To examine this issue, we analyzed rabies surveillance data (1999–2007) maintained by the New York State Department of Health. Compared to rabid raccoons (Procyon lotor), foxes infected with raccoon variant rabies were more likely to bite during a human exposure incident (P <0.01). Additionally, rabid gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) were significantly more likely to bite a human than were rabid red foxes (Vulpes vulpes; P<0.01). Animal control personnel and others who handle wildlife should be educated about the increased risk of bite exposure when dealing with potentially rabid foxes.
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Vol. 47 • No. 1