Health officials in Washington DC have euthanized a red fox that was responsible for biting at least nine people on Capitol Hill, including a congressman, and which tested positive for rabies.
The female fox was captured on Tuesday and by Wednesday, officials from the DC health department confirmed that she had been “humanely euthanized” so she could be tested for rabies.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an animal has to be euthanized in order to be tested for rabies as a brain sample needs to be extracted.
“The DC Public Health Lab has confirmed the fox that was captured… tested positive for the rabies virus,” officials said in a statement. They also urged anyone who has come in contact with the fox to contact health officials, who are also “contacting all human victims who were bitten by the fox”.
In a statement to NPR, a police spokesperson said, “[We] just learned people have seen foxes before, but this recent aggressive behavior is unusual, ”adding that the fox was seen around the Dirksen Senate office building, the Russell Senate office building, and the House area of the Capitol.
Health officials also found the fox’s offspring – known as kits – on Capitol Hill and are considering what to do with them.
Among the people bitten is Representative Ami Bera, a Democrat from California who reported that he was bitten by a fox on Monday evening.
He has since received seven shotsincluding five shots of immunoglobulin around the ankle where it bit him, one in either side of the buttocks, as well as a tetanus shot in the shoulder and a rabies shot in his arm.
On Wednesday, Bera said he feels “healthy” and is “glad to be back at work”.
Ximena Bustillo, a Politico journalist, was also bitten by the fox. On Tuesday, Bustillo tweeted: “That feel when you get a bit by a fox leaving Capitol cause that’s of course something I expect in THE MIDDLE OF DC.”
Bustillo said she was not contacted by health officials about the positive rabies test before they made the public announcement, the New York Times reported.
DC health officials said it would “not be doing a roundup of healthy foxes in the area” and that the health agency only intervenes to remove wildlife if they are sick or injured or where an exposure to humans has occurred and rabies testing would be warranted. . ”
Since news of the Capitol Hill fox emerged, people were quick to comment on social media.
One user tweeted, “The first honest thing on The Hill in 60 years, and they kill it. Rest in power, Comrade Fox. ”
“I’m guessing the fox is not the only thing rabid on Capitol Hill,” someone else wrote.