BROOKFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — We now know the bobcat that attacked two people over the weekend in central Mass. had rabies. It’s a viral disease that infects the brain.
This case doesn’t mean an uptick in the state, but does serve as a reminder to always be careful dealing with wild animals.
“Pound for pound, it’s got to be one of the most dangerous animals in the woods,” says Westfield Animal Control Officer Ken Frazer.
Frazer’s talking about a bobcat. The same animal recently testing positive for rabies, after biting a Brookfield man and his nephew over the weekend.
Frazer adds you can only assume an animal has rabies by it’s behavior, while confirmation is done by a lab test.
“Some signs of rabies is an animal walking around, falling down drunk or the animal walking up to you like it’s your best buddy. An animal that has aggressive rabies is going to go after you no matter what,” Frazer notes.
Rabies is passed through saliva, not blood.
In the Brookfield incident, the wife of the man who was bitten is also receiving treatment, not because she was bitten, but because the bobcat’s saliva got on her clothing.
“You have any cut, anything on your clothing as you do this. You can get it in your eyes, your nostrils, your mouth,” Frazer says.
Frazer says never take the chance and anyone bitten by a wild animal should go to the emergency room.
If the animal is caught, it can be tested for rabies. unless the brain is damaged.
“If you shoot it in the head, hit it in the head with a shovel and smash the brain, chances are it can’t be tested.”
Treatment for rabies used to be thirteen shots in the stomach. Now, it’s less painful with about three shots in the arm or behind, spaced out over a few days.
Frazer says you shouldn’t try to handle a wild animal yourself and instead call animal control.
Rabies can be deadly if not treated.