Fox Tests Positive For Rabies After Biting Multiple People On Capitol Hill (UPDATED)

A female fox turned out to be rabid after she bit several people, including a member of Congress, near the U.S. Capitol.
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A female fox that was captured and killed after biting multiple people on Capitol Hill has posthumously tested positive for rabies.

“The DC Public Health lab has confirmed the fox that was captured yesterday tested positive for the rabies virus,” the D.C. Department of Health said in a statement sent to HuffPost, adding that it will contact anyone who reported a bite.

The fox was “responsible for 9 confirmed bites on Capitol Hill” and was “humanely euthanized” to be tested for rabies, the department said in an earlier statement on Wednesday.

Because a rabies test involves brain tissue, it can’t be conducted on a living animal. Foxes are known carriers of rabies, and D.C. law states that wild animals that cause a potential rabies exposure in a person or another animal must be killed so they can be tested for the deadly virus.

Three fox kits were also found and captured. Officials determined they needed to be euthanized as well, because of the likelihood that they also had rabies.

“Since the mother tested positive for the rabies virus and the kits could have been exposed during grooming or other means, they were no longer able to be safely rehabilitated and were humanely euthanized,” the health department said Thursday.

The fox before her capture on Tuesday.
The fox before her capture on Tuesday.
Bill Clark via Getty Images

Animal control officers caught the mother fox on Tuesday after multiple reports of bites, including an “unprovoked” one on Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.). Shortly afterward, Bera began receiving a course of the post-exposure rabies vaccine.

Anyone who has had a potential rabies exposure should seek medical help immediately, and will almost certainly need to begin a post-exposure vaccine regimen. The vaccine prevents people from actually developing rabies. However, if a person does not get the vaccine and begins developing rabies symptoms, the disease is almost always fatal.

Only a tiny number of people have ever survived rabies, and they did so after undergoing an intensive procedure involving an induced coma.

DC Health urged anyone who had contact with the fox to call the department at 202-442-9143.

This story has been updated throughout.

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