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Sunday, August 3, 2008
Two hikers were attacked by a rabid bobcat while hiking near Tucson, AZ. They were eventually able to kill it with a geologist’s hammer, but not before they both got pretty scratched up.
Rich Thompson said he knew the cat was rabid the moment he saw it staring at him and Katrina Mangin in the Santa Rita Mountains. He said they tried to get away but the bobcat pursued them, lunging at Mangin, climbing up her legs and wrapping its body around her, clawing and biting.
The couple fought off the bobcat, but it continued attacking and jumped on Thompson’s back. “I hit it with the backpack over my shoulder,” he said. The cat fell to the dirt and lunged again. “It attacked me again, and I threw it down.”
Rabid animals become desperate, mentally deranged, and dangerously aggressive. Rabies drove this normally reclusive bobcat literally insane by destroying its brain.
Health officials in the Tucson area said there have been an increase in rabies cases lately. No matter where you are, if you’re heading outdoors, you should be familiar with the signs of rabies. You should also know what to do if you’re bitten by an animal you think might be rabid.
Raccoons are the most likely wild animal to be infected by rabies, but no animal is safe from the disease. Skunks, foxes, bats, and coyotes often carry the virus as well. Big cats, like bobcats and mountain lions, are also susceptible.
There are two types of rabies, by the way: “furious” rabies and “paralytic” rabies according to the CDC. “Furious” rabies causes the animal to bite at everything and become very hostile, while the more common “paralytic” rabies causes confusion, paralysis, and timidity in the animals it infects.
How to Tell if an Animal Has Rabies:
1. Rabid animals often appear confused, insane, and/or aggressive.
2. If a nocturnal animal is out in the middle of the day, it could be rabid.
3. If a normally shy wild animal (like most of them) acts overly friendly, that may also be a sign of rabies infection.
4. Because rabid animals produce more saliva, they may appear to be foaming at the mouth.
5. An animal that is staggering, stunned, having trouble moving, or appears to be paralyzed, may have rabies.
Because it can be difficult to tell whether an animal is rabid or not (and for many other reasons), it’s wise to avoid any contact with animals in the wild.
If bitten by a rabid animal, the first thing you want to do is thoroughly wash the wound with soap and/or a virus-killing cleanser and water. Then get yourself or the bite victim to the nearest hospital for treatment. Don’t lose your cool — you need treatment immediately, but it’s not as urgent as a rattlesnake bite.