Local News

Fox that attacked Aberdeen women had rabies

Posted July 20, 2011

— A fox that attacked two Aberdeen women Tuesday morning had rabies, Moore County animal control officers said Wednesday. 

Lee Clayton was walking outside her home on Chancery Lane at about 6:40 a.m. when she noticed the fox, which she said she had seen around the area a few times before. Then, she said, the animal lunged at her.

"I looked down and saw him on me, and I was just screaming and yelling. I grabbed him by the scruff to shake him loose, and it was like an alligator bite," Clayton said. "As soon as he let go of my leg, he started on this one, and I'm screaming and yelling."

Her 80-year-old mother, Martha Swaringen, heard her cries and came outside to beat the fox off her daughter with a shovel. The fox bit her on the foot.

"I turned (the shovel) and said, I'm going to give it everything I have, and I went down," Swaringen said about how she immobilized the fox. 

When animal control officers arrived, they shot the animal.

Clayton got nine stitches in her leg and her mother got three in the foot. Both women had to get a series of rabies shots.


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  • Ashen-Shugar Jul 21, 2011

    Foxes are not necessarily nocturnal animals either. The mother foxes I have in my yard are there every day. I do not see them at night even though I have looked. So nocturnal may be the norm, but not the rule. I have had multiple animals that are supposedly nocturnal in my yard during the day, the same animals I have seen for years. One raccoon is a daily occurrence, along with a fox that both have a foot that twisted or mauled, but easily identifiable as the same that have been coming for years. Rabies has a two week run, after that time they die.

  • soapbox Jul 21, 2011

    It's not true that every so-called nocturnal animal seen during the day is rabid, especially if they are sighted around dawn or dusk. Foxes, owls, raccoons and other nocturnal critters are sometimes out during the day if they are forced to hunt long hours for food because they are raising young, or if hunting is poor, or if they have been forced out of their home territory for some reason. That said, one should always be cautious around wild animals.

    There are no known cases of birds in the wild catching rabies, including owls, hawks and vultures. Possums also seem to be immune to rabies. There are no known cases of humans or pets catching rabies from wild rodents. I believe the theory there is that such small animals don't survive an attack by a rabid animal; or if they did, the virus would kill them so quickly that they would not be a threat to other animals or to humans.

  • bigpinkstork Jul 21, 2011

    A mother's job is never over--80 years old, and she still rushed to her daughter's rescue. God bless, Martha.

  • Ashen-Shugar Jul 21, 2011

    "And treatment for rabies used to be something like 12 shots in the stomach -- very painful." - OpenM1nd

    Not anymore, now you get them in the rear. Quite a few the first time, then a follow up shot in the arm on the 3rd, 7th, 14th, and 28th days after the initial bite. Still not fun, a general feeling of nausea through the entire process.

  • golorealist Jul 21, 2011

    "And treatment for rabies used to be something like 12 shots in the stomach -- very painful." - OpenM1nd

    yep...i had to go through this as a kid. not fun at all.

  • Rebelyell55 Jul 21, 2011

    July 20, 2011 5:46 p.m.
    I could be wrong, but I thought I read somewhere that rodents did not carry rabie.

  • Scubagirl Jul 21, 2011

    Sorry for what this lady now has to go through. Not surprised fox tested positive-non-rabid foxes rarely do what this one did.
    What scares me most about rabid animals is one getting into my back yard w/ the dogs when I'm not home.

  • pedsRN Jul 20, 2011

    Thanks to a courageous lady no one else will encounter this rabid fox. Hope they tolerate the anti-rabies treatment.

  • OpenM1nd Jul 20, 2011

    Anytime you see an otherwise nocturnal wild animal animal (fox, coyote, raccoon, etc.) during the day, there's a good chance it's rabid. The animal does not have to be foaming at the mouth, but may appear to be disoriented or more aggressive than normal, as in this case. Unfortunately, this trick doesn't work as well with "daylight animals" such as dogs and rodents. And treatment for rabies used to be something like 12 shots in the stomach -- very painful.

  • rufiedufie Jul 20, 2011

    how scary