A fox that attacked a Cottonwood woman Wednesday tested positive for rabies Thursday.
It was the first reported rabid wildlife attack in Yavapai County this year, after several odd incidents in 2009.
The year 2009 saw a record 280 confirmed reports of rabid wildlife. About half were skunks, 69 were bats and 51 were foxes. Fifteen cases occurred in Yavapai County, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Last year's record was a 59 percent increase from the previous record of 176 set in 2008. So far this year, the state has recorded 61 rabies cases in wild animals, two-thirds were skunks.
While state agencies don't track rabid wildlife attacks, at least three occurred last year in the Prescott and Cottonwood areas.
In the latest incident Wednesday evening, a woman who lives along North Willard Streeet in Cottonwood said a fox attacked her and bit her hand.
She had just caught a javelina in a trap in her yard and when it was loaded into her vehicle, she went back into her yard.
Suddenly a grey fox jumped over a retaining wall and bit her hand, then ran away. She suffered minor lacerations and is undergoing rabies shots.
The woman's husband said the fox had been in the area for some time and thought it lived in an abandoned house next door. However, it had just started acting strangely in the last few days.
When the report came into the police, they suspected the fox was rabid because they had received two earlier reports of a fox trying unsuccessfully to attack people in the area, including a UPS driver who fended off the fox with a clipboard, according to state wildlife officials and Cottonwood Sgt. Gareth Braxton.
An officer spotted the fox in the vacant home next to the victim's home, Cottonwood police said. When the fox leaped onto the retaining wall about 15 feet away from the officers, one of the officers shot and killed it.
Arizona Game and Fish Department spokesperson Zen Mocarski warned people to stay away from wild animals and watch for unusual behavior indicative of rabies.
Signs of rabies include lethargy, lack of fear of humans, unusual aggression and activity during the heat of the day, especially from nocturnal animals.
The last reported rabid wildlife attack in Yavapai County took place in April 2009 when a rabid bobcat attacked a family walking along Lynx Creek in Prescott Valley.
In March 2009, a rabid bobcat attacked patrons in a Cottonwood bar, and the saloon's video camera captured the havoc.
And in February 2009 and November 2008, two separate rabid foxes attacked hikers at the Granite Mountain Recreation Area just west of Prescott.