ADAMS — A fox reportedly bit a child who was out for a Sunday evening swim at a natural pool known as Big Basin, near Siara Street, police said.
The unidentified child was with a parent when the fox bit the child on the heel, police said. The attack was reported to police at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
A search for the fox was then launched by Animal Control Officer Kim Witek and police officers, but it wasn't located, according to police.
The child was taken to an area hospital, police said.
Because the fox was not found, the child may have to undergo treatment for rabies. Police said that even if a fox was found now in the swimming hole area, there is no way to be certain it is the fox that bit the child.
Rabies is spread most commonly through the bite of an infected animal and is almost 100 percent fatal unless medically treated. According to the state Department of Public Health, more than 5,000 animals have tested positive for rabies in Massachusetts since 1992.
Rabies is most common among fox, raccoon, skunks, bats and woodchuck. Cats and dogs may develop rabies if they are not vaccinated and come into contact with an infected animal.
State wildlife officials say that rabies among fox has increased lately. From January to April, 4 percent of the total reported rabies cases were from fox; for May, June and July, that percentage spiked to 10 percent. Woodchuck data also jumped, from zero during the year's first four months to 10 percent currently.
The bite in Adams was at least the second such incident recently in Berkshire County. Last week, a fox reportedly bit a Pittsfield boy.
Meanwhile, some communities are reporting widespread instances of rabid animals. As reported in Monday's Eagle, the town of Sheffield has seen a surge in the number of rabid animals in town over the past two weeks.