Rabid fox confronts Bethlehem police officer

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - May 28, 2013

There have been several reports of rabid foxes attacking people in the Lehigh Valley over the past few weeks and now at least two more people were attacked by a rabid fox over the weekend in Bethlehem.

It was Saturday afternoon when a fox was shot and killed by Bethlehem Police Officer Benjamin Hackett.

He says it wasn't long after he responded to two reports of a fox attacking people in the neighborhood that he and the animal crossed paths.

He says the fox quickly went on the attack, but it didn't go after Officer Hackett.

"It reared up on its hind legs and was actually biting at the bumper and exhaust pipe of my van," Hackett said.

Hackett quickly grabbed his high-powered rifle and shot the animal in the chest.

And what happened next is something Hackett says he will not soon forget.

"Vital organs were exposed and it continued to charged at me for another 10 to 15 feet before dropping and expiring on the street," Hackett said.

Ensuing tests on the animal's brain confirmed it was rabid.

The people who were attacked have since been treated for rabies and they are expected to fully recover.

"It's a series of four shots. If you are exposed potentially by rabies, you want to seek medical attention right away; within 14 days, you'll complete the series of the post exposure prophylactic," Bethlehem's Health Director Kristin Wenrich said.

Wenrich says if that medical protocol is administered before symptoms begin it's nearly 100% effective.

Once symptoms begin, rabies is almost always fatal.

As for Officer Hackett, he just hopes to steer clear of rabid animals from now on.

"Certainly not something I will forget and certainly not something I want to see again," Hackett said.

Lehigh Valley officials are now urging pet owners to make sure their pets' rabies vaccinations are up to date.

If you come into contact with a potentially rabid animal, back away, and call 911.

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