Rabies has a phase called "furious phase". The infected animal has symptoms which can directly affect humans.

An infected dog may viciously attack any moving object, person, or animal; a caged rabid dog will chew the wire, break their teeth, and try to bite a hand moving in front of the cage. Rabid cats will attack suddenly, biting and scratching. Foxes will invade yards and attack dogs, cows, and porcupines.

So, you encounter a fox with rabies on the trail. Are we able to help it (even if it means "kill it")?

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  • 2
    The solution costs less than a penny: .22 LR round.
    – zer00ne
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 12:25

2 Answers 2


Question: Are we even perhaps able to help it (even if it means "kill it")?

The only way to help a rabid fox, or any rabid animal, is to kill it.

If you have a gun -- and know how to use it -- kill the rabid fox. It is the humane thing to do for the fox, and protects other people whom the fox might harm if you just got yourself away or drove it away.

But be sure the fox is rabid. Just because you see it in the daylight does not mean it is rabid. According to the Humane Society of the United States

Foxes aren't dangerous to humans, except when they are rabid....Luckily, post-exposure treatment is 100% effective if promptly administered.

As to what to do if you encounter a rabid fox and are unarmed, I don't have an answer-worthy answer. A good answer would be very useful.

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    In the event that you're unarmed and in a not-so-remote location, a quick call the the closest game commission office will usually result in an agent being dispatched immediately with the gear to dispatch the animal (if it doesn't run off by the time they arrive). Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 2:09
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    I would also add that even if you do carry a gun, make sure that it is lawful to fire it wherever you may be. If you are outside of city limits in a remote area that is one thing, if you are in a state park or inside city limits that is another.
    – Nate W
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 21:55

Once rabies symptoms appear it is generally considered beyond the window for treatment, at least in humans (see: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/symptoms/index.html).

As ab2 said in their answer, if you have a gun and know how to use it you could kill the animal, putting it out of its misery. For humans who are 'past the point of no return' the treatment is more about minimizing the agony, and for animals in the wild maybe this is the best we can do for them and other creatures who may suffer from their madness.

Unless you are immediately threatened however, I think the answer is to let them be and increase cautiousness. Progress with heightened awareness and warn others as the animal will wander mindlessly and may have infected other creatures in the area as well. This answer is supported by the following link http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/32131.html which states:

What should I do if I see an animal that appears to be rabid?

Stay away from any animal that's acting strangely, and let your neighbors know about its presence in the area. We do not recommend approaching it with a baseball bat or other club because that would require close contact. Sometimes your local police can come out and shoot it; however, even a sick animal will often wander off by the time outside help can get there. If it does have rabies and has wandered off, it will probably die within seven days, but it might have bitten other animals in the area, so it's a good idea to stay on guard.

Bottom line is: avoid rather than engage unless engaging has adds very little risk, and proceed with caution in any case. Notify others for their safety. If you might have encountered infection, seriously consider seeking treatment, as waiting for symptoms to show up is waiting too long and may be past the point of no return.

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