Video: rabid fox attacks a woman in NY neighborhood

Posted at 7:14 PM, Aug 24, 2022

A startling video of a fox attack in upstate New York surfaced online this week. The footage, which appeared to be recorded by home surveillance cameras and is timestamped July 25, shows a woman fending off the animal as it repeatedly attacks her in the front yard of her home in Ithaca.

The soundless clip spans roughly 45 seconds. At its start, the woman is seen standing near a driveway with a phone to her ear when the fox runs up from behind and latches onto her leg. The woman attempts to kick and shake the animal off of her several times. A man then runs over carrying a large stick, and as he approaches the fox, it runs away.

Ed Russo, a meteorologist at CBS Harrisburg affiliate WHP-TV, shared the video on social media recently and identified the woman as his cousin. "A cousin of mine was attacked by a rabid fox in Ithaca, NY," he tweeted on Tuesday. "She's OK. But geez this video is crazy!"

He said the fox tested positive for rabies after it was eventually caught and euthanized.

Russo shared the video with a similar message on Facebook around the same time. He later explained in the post's comments section that the woman "sought medical attention immediately" following the attack and was "treated appropriately."

"She did everything right," Russo wrote, reiterating that his relative "is OK." He said the fox that attacked her nearly did the same to another person soon after the incident happened, but was caught in time.

Russo has not yet replied to a CBS News request for comment.

Foxes are one of several species that carry rabies most commonly in the U.S., although they account for fewer cases than other wild animals like bats, raccoons, and skunks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The health agency's guidelines state that overly aggressive behavior in one of these animals, or, less frequently, a pet, can be a sign of rabies, but there are a wide range of symptoms.

While the virus originates in animals, it can spread to humans through bites or scratches and infects the central nervous system. Rabies can be fatal if the disease reaches the brain, but it is usually treatable as long as treatment is given shortly after exposure. Health officials recommend vaccinating all domestic pets against rabies to reduce the risks of spread.

The CDC tracked rabies cases and their geographic locations for several years, and published annual reports until 2018. At the time, data showed that foxes with rabies were found in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. However, at least one rabid fox has been reported in Ithaca. In 2018, a fox that bit multiple people and pets at Ithaca College tested positive for rabies, according to the Ithaca Voice.