Bobcat attacks woman in Show Low, Ariz. neighborhood

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SHOW LOW, Ariz. -- Officials from the Arizona Game and Fish Department are warning people in northeastern Ariz. to be alert after a bobcat attacked a woman Sunday night.

The woman was attacked at about 10:30 in a neighborhood in the southern part of the city near Hwy. 260 and Webb Dr.

She has several bites and scratches on her thigh. She was treated at Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center and released, after getting rabies vaccines and anti-rabies serum as a precaution.

A Navajo County deputy sheriff responded to the attack call.

At the same time, another deputy sheriff nearby observed a bobcat behaving in an aggressive, abnormal manner and destroyed it. The carcass was shipped to the Arizona State Health Laboratory for necropsy and rabies testing.

Officials are advising area residents watch for any wild animal or pet that appears to behave oddly, indicating the potential presence of rabies.

“Bobcats rarely attack people, but when they do, the animal is often rabid,” said Bruce Sitko with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in a written press release. “While we don’t expect a larger outbreak of the virus in the local area, we want to err on the side of caution in alerting residents to watch and report any abnormal behaviors in other wild or domestic animals, as this bobcat may have had contact with them.”

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system and is always fatal once symptoms appear. The virus can be transmitted to people or animals through bites from infected animals or exposure to infected saliva through open wounds or mucous membranes.
 
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.
 
To report incidents, contact the Navajo County Animal Control office at (928) 524-4266, Show Low Animal Control office at (928) 537-4365 or the department at (928) 367-4281 during regular business hours. After hours, call 911 and the dispatcher will assist in contacting the proper authority.
 
Health Services and department officials 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.