CITRUS PARK — The fox that bit a woman Thursday morning was rabid, according to the Hillsborough County Health Department, which has obtained a positive test result for the disease.
Donell Hall, 44, was leaving a sick friend's house before 8 a.m. and had one leg out of her GMC Jimmy when the fox scratched the back of her leg and then bit her. She went back into the house, thinking a feral cat had bitten her, said her mother, Priscilla Pack.
They called Hillsborough County Animal Services and when an officer arrived, the fox was still under Hall's sport utility vehicle. It charged and was captured, Pack said.
"I still can't believe it," she said. "It was very aggressive. It's a populated area less than a mile east of Citrus Park Mall and closer than that to a bike trail."
Hall had her first of five antirabies shots on Monday, her mother said.
Others who live in the area have been notified, Animal Services spokeswoman Marti Ryan said. Foxes and raccoons are the most common carriers for the virus, which is passed through saliva, Ryan said.
Two raccoons have tested positive for rabies this year in the county, but there have been fewer cases than in past years, Ryan said.
It is out of character for a wild animal to approach a person, she said. Rabid animals are often described as foaming at the mouth, but they may simply behave aggressively or erratic, or have a bizarre growl or strange gait.
"Rabies occurs in the wild," Ryan said. "Problems occur when we collide in these animals' worlds. That's why it matters that you get your pets vaccinated. If they test positive for rabies, they're not going to recover."