CLOVER -- Ten-year-old Summer Langston was able to get away from a rabid fox after it chased her last week near her home in Clover, but she'll soon have to go through a series of shots to treat the two-inch bite on her leg.
Langston was playing in a nearby yard with a group of other girls when the fox ran out of the woods. First, it bit the rubber wheel of her doll's stroller, then came at her, she said. Her older sister April cleaned the wound, which had broken the skin enough for the animal's saliva to get inside.
"It sort of hurt, but not anymore," Langston said about the fox bite, which her mother says looks more like a scratch than teeth marks or a gash.
The fox was later found dead and tested positive for rabies.
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Now, two weeks into summer vacation, York County Animal Control has advised kids who play outside in the mobile home park on Kreps Road outside of Clover to carry sticks to protect themselves from foxes and other animals that might carry rabies.
"I would have thought it was rare, but this is the second or third fox around here," said mother Carolyn Langston, who was in classes at York Technical College when her daughter was bitten.
"It's scary to think that all these kids on summer vacation, playing in other people's yards, might not know where to run if they see one," she said.
The kid-friendly community where the Langstons live is also home to small pets, such as cats and dogs. Property owner Charles Hoffecker requires that dogs be pinned up in yards. He said there's also a surprising number of raccoons, squirrels and rabbits that run loose nearby, which may contribute to the very reason foxes are so populated this year.
"If there was one fox with rabies, something had to have bit him before that," Hoffecker said.
State law requires that all mammal bites be reported to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, but treatment isn't as arduous as it was in the past, said Clair Boatwright, SCDHEC spokesperson.
"You may have heard about 17 shots in the stomach," she said. "It's not that way anymore."
Langston will receive preventive inoculations to stop the virus from reaching the brain. According to DHEC, once the rabies virus reaches the brain, the disease can be fatal to humans and animals.
This is the fifth confirmed rabid animal in York County in 2008.
Another resident in the Krepps Road community, Michael Sides, said he saw a rabid fox the week before Langston was bitten. It tried to attack his golf cart, but limped away to a nearby lake, where Sides and Hoffecker killed it, he said.
Sides' 17- and 11-year-old sons live and play on the dirt road. His oldest son skateboards on the paved road and many of the kids play on swingsets and just have fun running around, he said.
Sides said he's not going to keep them inside all summer, but he's not arming them with sticks, either.
"There's nothing you can really do," he said. "You can't just go out and shoot every fox you see, but you can't keep your kids cooped up inside. It's summer."
Sixteen rabid animals were found in York County last year, including foxes, racoons, a cow, bat and skunk, according to DHEC.