A Prince George’s County police officer shot and wounded himself by accident Monday as he backed away from a possibly rabid fox that was racing toward him, a county police spokesman said.

The officer killed the fox but shot himself in a leg during the confrontation in Fort Washington, which occurred after a woman reported that the animal had bitten her, said officer Edward Martin, a police spokesman.

The officer was taken to a hospital for treatment of a wound that was regarded as serious but not life-threatening, Martin said. He said the woman received medical treatment, but details were not available.

As related by Martin, matters began about 5 p.m., when a woman living in the 13000 block of Clarion Road reported that she had been bitten in two places by the fox. It was not immediately clear where the animal had come from.

When three officers arrived at the woman’s house, near Livingston Road, the fox, which may have had rabies, “charged at them,” Martin said.

He said the officers began to retreat. One of the three fired his service weapon as he backed up to distance himself from the fox, Martin said. As the officer backed away, Martin said, he apparently bumped into a set of steps and tripped.

It was about that point, Martin said, that one of the officer’s shots struck him just below the knee.

Although the exact sequence of events was not immediately known, the fox was shot and killed by the officer, Martin said.

Neighbors said woodlands are near Clarion Road, and they have seen a variety of animals nearby. However, one said, foxes are relatively rare.