Rabid fox attacks man and his 3 year old grandson

female gray fox
female gray fox

DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) - A rabid fox attacks a man and his 3-year-old grandson. The man actually had to beat the fox off the little boy. It happened at a home in McKenney, just south of Petersburg in Dinwiddie County.

This is the first rabid animal attack on a human in Dinwiddie this year and the first time a fox was involved. Until now, they've only seen rabid raccoons. Something to keep in mind when your outside, enjoying the warmer weather, especially during the day.

It darted out from behind a shed to where a 3-year-old boy was playing.  A rabid female gray fox, like the one pictured here, on the attack.

"The fox started towards him. The grandfather tried to stop it and it went around him, and got the little boy on the leg," said Deborah Broughton, Chief Warden with Dinwiddie Animal Control.

Broughton said the grandfather was bitten and scratched on his hand and leg. He killed the sickened animal with his bare hands. The fox tested positive for rabies, a fatal infection.

"If you contract rabies there's no cure. When a dog contracts rabies there's no cure, any animal no cure," said Broughton.

The grandfather and the toddler are in the middle of rabies treatments which involve a series of three shots over several weeks. Broughton said several rabies cases have popped up in Dinwiddie in just the last few months.

"We've had several rabid raccoons but they've been fighting with dogs," said Broughton.

Because of that, Broughton stresses the importance of rabies shots for pets.

"That rabies shot which could cost anywhere from $8 to $18 is so vitally important," said Broughton.

When you see a nocturnal animal like a fox, opossum or raccoon, during the day that's a big warning sign of a possible surprise attack.

Broughton said the McKenney man handled the ordeal well.

"He did a very good job of it because if he'd been out there by himself the situation could have been a little bit different," said Broughton.

Broughton said it was believed the gray fox had pups in the area near the attack, but there was no sign of them.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.