After an Arlington man killed what was presumed to be a rabid fox using an electric hedge clipper, health officials from the town are urging residents to take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.
Arlington Police were called to a home on Cypress Road Saturday about 9:40 a.m. for a man who had just been attacked by a fox while trimming his hedges, said Police Captain Richard Flynn.
“A fox came out and bit him in the boot,” Flynn said.
The man, whose name has not been released, then stepped on the fox and struck and killed the fox with his electric hedge clippers, Flynn said.
Rescue workers from the Arlington Fire Department helped the man remove his boot, and it did not appear the bite had broken the skin. The man refused further medical treatment, according to police.
But Flynn said police then returned to the home shortly after 10 a.m. because the man fainted. He was then taken to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. No further information was available about the man’s condition.
The dead fox was placed in a bio-hazard bag and police contacted health officials.
Arlington’s Health and Human Services department said Wednesday that the fox was presumed to have been rabid, and the town is urging residents to vaccinate their pets against rabies, as is required under state law for dogs, cats and ferrets.
The viral disease affects mammals and is spread through the bite and saliva of an infected animal, according to the health department.
The disease infects the central nervous system and, if untreated, ultimately causes disease in the brain and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials are asking Arlington residents to immediately report to police any animals that display signs of rabies, such as erratic behavior, hyper salivation, impaired movement or paralysis.
The town is also cautioning residents not to feed or approach wild animals, and health officials are asking that residents secure their garbage at all times to prevent from attracting wild animals.