Roanoke, Virginia http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/wb/122358 Rabid fox bites four people, is killed It took two pistol slugs and a shotgun blast to kill the animal, which had fought three pet dogs. By Shawna Morrison 381-1665 What's the treatment for rabies? Five sets of shots -- in the arms or hips -- are given over four weeks. In addition, a set of shots that attacks any present virus is administered directly around the wound on the first day of treatment. Alan Kim | The Roanoke Times Mike Houston was attacked by a fox and bitten on his left knee while out with his dog Sam not far from his home, just beyond the backyard on Saturday. BLACKSBURG -- Five people, three from the same family, are undergoing rabies shots after some of them were attacked by a rabid fox near Blacksburg's Heritage Park over the weekend. In addition, three pet dogs are confined to their homes for more than a month after fighting with the animal, which took two pistol slugs and a shotgun blast to kill. Todd King was the first to report seeing a fox he suspected was rabid Friday night. King said he was checking on some tomato plants in the back yard of his parents' Lacy Lane home when his 7-year-old daughter, Carrigan, yelled that their dog Max had a squirrel. But whatever was in the 6-month-old German shepherd's grip was too big to be a squirrel, King said. He kicked the animal into the yard, then watched as it ran back toward him. He swung at it with a broomstick until it finally disappeared into the trees that separate his parents' house from Heritage Park. King said he didn't realize until later that he'd been bitten on his left calf. His 13-year-old son, Corey, said the fox ran up as he sat on the grass and bit the tip of his tennis shoe. King called Blacksburg police. An officer showed up to look for the gray fox but it didn't make another appearance that night. The next morning, Mike Houston was out walking his dog, Sam, in Heritage Park when he saw an animal trotting straight toward him. Worried that the animal was a cat and that his 9-year-old bassett hound and Labrador retriever mix might go after it, Houston turned around to check on the dog, which was off its leash. "When I turned around to look for Sam it sped up and came after me," Houston said. The animal jumped on him, biting several times at the heavy new pair of blue jeans he wore. Houston swung at it with Sam's retractable leash but fell down in the wet grass. He called for Sam to help. "I called him because I couldn't get the d--- thing off me," Houston said. "It was so aggressive and so tenacious." Sam chased the animal into some brush and fought with it until Houston called him off, Houston said. When Houston got back to his home on Lindale Drive, which backs up to Westover Park, next to Heritage Park, he realized he'd been bitten on the left knee through his thick jeans. He washed the dried blood off his knee and called Blacksburg police. Officer Tommy Sarver was one of three officers who showed up. They were looking for the animal on the park's walking trail when Sarver felt something grab his left ankle. "I lifted my leg up and it was still attached to my leg," Sarver said. He kicked the animal off with his other foot. The fox landed in the grass 15 to 20 feet away "and came at me again," he said. Sarver pulled out his .40-caliber Glock pistol and shot the animal. It sat stunned for a second then came after him again, he said. Another officer shot the fox with his pistol but it got up again. A third officer fired the shotgun blast that finally killed the animal. Sarver said the fox didn't puncture the skin on his ankle but left a hole in his boot and saliva on his pants. "The only way you can get rabies is through a bite ... or by getting either the saliva or the brain tissue into an open wound or into a mucus membrane like the eye or the mouth," said Dr. Jody Hershey, director of the New River Health District. Sarver, King and Houston began rabies shots right away because they had direct exposure to the animal's saliva. Corey and Carrigan King underwent their first shots Wednesday, Corey because the animal had bitten his shoe and Carrigan because she played with the dog after it had been in a scuffle with the fox. An examination of the animal's lower brain stem showed that it was rabid, Hershey said. Blacksburg police Capt. Bruce Bradbery said town officials have met to discuss the incident and are planning to make literature available at entrances to the town's parks. "We want people to know what to do if they encounter an animal that's acting strangely and what to do if they get bitten," he said. Hershey said it's a misconception that rabies is seen only in rural areas. "We have it everywhere," he said. "We even have it in Manhattan." Rabies was first diagnosed in an animal in the New River Valley in 1942, he said. So far this year, there have been five confirmed cases in Floyd County, three in Montgomery County and one each in Giles and Pulaski counties and the city of Radford, Hershey said. Six were raccoons, three were skunks and two were foxes. Though rabies shots were once administered in the stomach, that hasn't been the case for years, Hershey said. Now, anyone who has been directly exposed to rabies gets five sets of shots -- in the arms or hips -- spaced out over four weeks: the day of exposure, then three, seven, 14 and 28 days later. They also receive on the first day of treatment a set of rabies immunoglobulin, or RIG, shots that immediately attack any present virus. The amount of RIG administered is determined by a person's weight and the shots are given directly around the wound. Anyone who has been bitten by an animal should wash the wound and immediately have it evaluated by a doctor, Hershey said. The best ways to avoid the spread of rabies are to vaccinate pets and avoid unknown animals, he said. Max, Sam and a third dog that got into a scuffle with a fox in the Heritage Park area Friday all had up-to-date rabies vaccines, Hershey said. Each dog shouldn't have contact with people who aren't undergoing rabies shots for the next 45 days, he said. Had the dogs' vaccines not been current, Hershey said, they would have had to be caged and kept out of contact with humans for up to six months.