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Residents in Chesapeake Ranch Estates may have noticed a “creature” running around the area, and officials believe it to be a fox with mange.

Mange is a skin disease that can affect animals including foxes, coyotes and dogs, said 1st Sgt. Matt McDonough of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office. He said the disease can be transferred from animal to animal and causes the skin to “scale up” and the fur to fall out. Eventually, the animal can die, he said.

As with any wild animal “acting strangely,” such as a fox or raccoon wandering around aimlessly during the day, McDonough said people should avoid coming in contact with the diseased fox. He said although people should not be “freaked out” if they see the animal in their flower bed, wild animals do not have the opportunity to go to a vet like domestic animals do for treatment when sick so people should avoid having any contact with it and should call the sheriff’s office animal control division to report what they’ve seen.

“Stay away from them … and then call the sheriff’s office and notify animal control what you’ve seen in the area,” he said. “If animal control isn’t available, we will dispatch a deputy.”

KATIE FITZPATRICK