Published On: Tue, Apr 30th, 2013

Arizona woman attacked by rabid bobcat behind a Lowe’s Home Improvement store

A Navajo County, Arizona sheriff responded to a call Sunday where a young woman was attacked by a bobcat  behind the Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Show Low, according to a Arizona Game and Fish Department news release April 29.

Bobcat sitting in tree Image/Kramer Gary, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bobcat sitting in tree
Image/Kramer Gary, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The woman was attacked about 10:30 p.m., receiving several bites and scratches on her thigh. She was treated at Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center and subsequently released, receiving rabies vaccines and anti-rabies serum as a precaution, pending outcome of the tests.

According to a WMICentral.com report today, it has now been confirmed that the bobcat, who was shot Sunday night by another deputy sheriff nearby who observed the bobcat behaving in an aggressive manner, had tested positive for rabies.

“Bobcats rarely attack people, but when they do, the animal is often rabid,” says Bruce Sitko, department spokesman.

According to the release, in recent years, the occurrence of rabies has been uncommon in Navajo County. According to Arizona Department of Health Services records, the last confirmed case of any animal testing positive in Navajo County was a bat in 2011. In 2010, three bats tested positive in the county. The last case of a bobcat testing positive for rabies anywhere in Arizona was a single incident in 2011.

Rabies is an acute viral infection that is transmitted to humans or other mammals usually through the saliva from a bite of an infected animal. It is also rarely contracted through breaks in the skin or contact with mucous membranes. It has been suggested that airborne transmission is possible in caves where there are heavy concentrations of bats.

According to the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, all mammals are susceptible to rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, coyotes and cats are the likely suspects. Other animals like otters and ferrets are also high risk. Mammals like rabbits, squirrels, rodents and opossums are rarely infected.

Rabies infected animals can appear very aggressive, attacking for no reason. Some may act very tame. They may look like they are foaming at the mouth or drooling because they cannot swallow their saliva. Sometimes the animal may stagger (this can also be seen in distemper). Not long after this point they will die. Most animals can transmit rabies days before showing symptoms.

Initially, like in many diseases, the symptoms of rabies are non-specific; fever, headache and malaise. This may last several days. At the site of the bite, there may be some pain and discomfort. Symptomsthen progress to more severe: confusion, delirium, abnormal behavior and hallucinations. If it gets this far, the disease is nearly 100% fatal.

Although worldwide it is estimated that there are more than 55,000 deaths due to rabies annually, human rabies cases are extremely rare in the United States, which averages  less than five human rabies cases annually.

Human rabies is prevented by administration of rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recommend the following to protect individuals and pets from rabies:

  • Do not pick up, touch or feed wild or unfamiliar mammals. If someone is bitten or scratched, or has had contact with an animal, report it immediately to animal control or health officials and consult a physician as soon as possible.
  • When enjoying outdoor activities, such as hiking or camping, avoid wild mammals, especially those that are behaving abnormally. Such behavior from the animal might include showing no fear; unusual vocalizing; staggering and/or acting sickly; and nocturnal mammals active during daytime.
  • Campers should keep pets under control and maintain a clean camp to discourage visits from unwanted wildlife. Do not leave uneaten food out when retiring for the evening.
  • Keep pets on a leash and do not allow them to wander.
  • Vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies.
  • Do not disturb roosting bats. If a bat is found on the ground, don’t touch it. If the bat is found in an urban area, report it and the location to the local animal control officer or health department.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63


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