Animals

Fox Euthanized, Tests for Rabies After Congressman, Others Bit Near US Capitol

Anyone who came into physical contact with a fox or its kits, particularly near Capitol Hill, should contact DC Health at 202-442-9143.

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A mother fox that bit at least nine people near the U.S. Capitol was euthanized and authorities have found and captured her kits, officials told NBC News.

DC Health said the fox was "humanely euthanized so that rabies testing may be done," according to a tweet from NBC News' Frank Thorp on Wednesday afternoon.

Later, the lab confirmed that the animal tested positive for the virus.

“DC Health is contacting all human victims who were bitten by the fox. Animal control will post informational flyers around Capitol Hill advising of the fox’s positive rabies status and encouraging people who might have been exposed to call DC Health," the department said.

Officials are working on figuring out the next steps for the fox kits, DC Health said in the statement.

"No other foxes were found on the Capitol Hill grounds, but it would not be uncommon to see more as there are many present throughout the District," the agency said.

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) said a fox bit him on Monday as he was walking outside the Capitol.

"[I] felt something lunge at the back of my leg. Thought it was going to be a small dog or something. Kind of jumped and then it's like, that's not a dog. It's a fox," Bera said. "You know, somebody started saying, 'Hey, there's a fox attacking that guy.'"

"The fox pierced Rep. Bera’s suit, but it was inconclusive whether or not the fox pierced his skin," a spokesperson for Bera's office said.

Bera went to Walter Reed Hospital Monday night to receive the appropriate shots out of an abundance of caution.

"As a doctor himself, Rep. Bera encourages everyone to stay vigilant around wild animals and to speak with their physician if they get bitten," the spokesperson said.

Animal control officers captured the female fox Tuesday afternoon.

Moments before the capture, a woman told News4 a fox bit her on the ankle.

"I was walking and the fox ran up behind me and clipped my ankle with its mouth," Politico reporter Ximena Bustillo said. "I screamed."

U.S. Capitol Police received “several reports of aggressive fox encounters on or near the grounds of the U.S. Capitol,” the department said earlier Tuesday.

If you see a fox, don't go near it, they advised.

"Do not approach. Stay away. Call animal control, call the professionals and they'll handle it like they handled it this afternoon," U.S. Capitol Police spokesperson Tim Barber said.

Anyone who came into physical contact with a fox or its kits, particularly near Capitol Hill, should contact DC Health at 202-442-9143.

People who work on the Hill reported sightings. One photo shows a slender fox on a sidewalk; another shows a fox on a lawn near what the photographer said was the Russell Senate Office Building.

Animal sightings near the Capitol and National Mall aren’t unheard of; a wild coyote was spotted in East Potomac Park in 2020

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

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