Fox attack in Rockdale County, rabies feared

Two foxes have attacked people at a Rockdale County home prompting fear of other possibly rabid foxes nearby.

One Conyers’ man knifed a potentially rabid one to death Monday after it bit a child; it was the second such one killed near their home off Flat Shoals Road in two weeks, said Tim Timberman, the man’s father.

The foxes were killed by his son Brandon Timberman and visitors to their home, the dad said.

“They bit the landlord the first time and then bit one of the kids who was playing with his children,” Timberman said. “There are supposedly two more foxes around there and they are possibly the same way.”

Authorities gave his son permission to trap and kill the foxes in the area because of the rabies potential despite them being out of season, Tim Timberman said.

Foxes have figured into rabies fears of late — despite usually not being the central figure in rabies drama. Douglas County Animal Control issued a warning in May of potentially rabied foxes when a 13-year-old boy was treated after choking one to death.

Ciji Baker, director of the Rockdale Animal Shelter who responded to the Monday call, said it wasn’t clear in either of the Rockdale cases whether the animals were rabid because they weren’t tested but he warned that the reported animal behavior was a red flag. Foxes usually flee.

Monday's call was only third he had on foxes in his 13 years in animal control, Baker said. Racoons make up the bulk of the recorded rabid animals identified in Georgia and it is rare for a human to be infected because of preventive treatment, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control.

Georgia had 37 rabid foxes confirmed in 2012 compared to 180 raccoons, 87 skunks, 24 cats and seven dogs, according to CDC figures. Thirty-one cases of human rabies have been confirmed in the United States since 2003, often in people who were infected while traveling overseas, the CDC reported

“We can’t say 100 percent whether it was rabies or it was protecting its den or something else going on,” Baker said. “If it starts approaching you like a dog would, then we need to be concerned.”

Jill Timberman told the Rockdale Citizen that her two children — ages 2 and 5 —were playing with a friend when a fox appeared and bit the friend.

“All the kids were playing and we were watching them, and it happened before our eyes,” Timberman told the newspaper “We saw it happening but we couldn’t get there fast enough.”

Another man who was visiting held the fox down with his boot and her husband stabbed it with a knife, Jill Timberman told the newspaper. She said the fox that bit her landlord was shot but that bite didn’t penetrate his skin because of his thick socks.

Tim Timberman said he understood the little girl was undergoing treatment for possible rabies. Neither fox was tested because the first one didn’t penetrate the skin and there was no threat of rabies and stabbing destroyed the brain of the second one, which is the organ that must be tested, Baker said.