EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 12, 2014

Fox in Derry tests positive for rabies

Child will undergo series of shots

(Continued)

The animal was spotted in the woods off Cemetery Road Thursday evening and shot by a Fish and Game officer, he said. Don Ball Park was reopened.

But local residents visiting the park yesterday with young children were nervous after hearing about the attack.

Some had not heard of the incident until they arrived, including Caren Pierni of Derry. She was with her grandchildren, 8-month-old Stella and 15-month-old Miller.

Pierni kept a close eye on the children, not convinced the park was completely safe.

“If there is one fox, there is another one,” she said. “I would have never come.”

Nancy Harper, 44, of Derry didn’t hear about the attack until she was getting ready to go to the park.

But she came prepared — carrying a large snow brush to ward any aggressive animals. She was ready to use whatever was necessary to protect her 4-year-old daughter, Madison.

“It was in my truck,” she said of the snow brush. “And I have hairspray in my pocket. It is crazy — this park is usually protected. I just said, ‘If there are any doggies in the park, don’t touch them.’”

Harper said her family had to undergo a series of rabies vaccinations after they encountered a bat in their home. She said she didn’t want to take any chances this time.

“I’m probably going to pick up some pepper spray,” Harper said.

Thomas said his department receives numerous reports of sick wildlife each year, but only two or three end up being rabies cases. This was first incident he recalled where a person was bitten by a rabid animal.

Many of the cases involve raccoons, but some involve skunks and foxes, he said.

“Rabies is an issue not only in Derry, but everywhere,” Thomas said.

Mathewson said rabid animals are a problem across New Hampshire. From 2009 to 2013, 137 animals tested positive for rabies in the Granite State, including 30 last year, she said.

Five of those 30 animals were foxes, but raccoons pose the biggest problem, Mathewson said.

“Raccoons are by far one of the most problematic animals,” she said.

Derry police urge anyone who sees an animal that is believed to be sick or aggressive to contact the animal control office at 432-6143.

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