In China, 2009 was the year of the cow. In Arizona, however, 2009 may have been the year of the rabid bobcat.
Officials at the Arizona Department of Health Services say there were more cases of rabies in 2009 than in any other year to date, including at least two rabid bobcats that both came to a rather unusual demise.
In one of the past year's more amusing rabid bobcat stories, a few weeks ago, a man choked one to death with his bare hands after it attacked him in his yard. In a separate case, back in March, a rabid bobcat walked into a bar in Cottonwood and started attacking patrons before being shot by police.
Last year, 261 animals tested positive for the disease, which is an alarming 85 more than 2008.
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"There is no sign of rabies letting up in many parts of the state," says Craig Levy, Vector-Borne Disease Program Manager. "As we head into 2010, we need to be prepared for more rabid animals and the exposures to people and pets that they bring."
The outbreak got so bad in Santa Cruz and Coconino counties that county-wide quarantines were issued. The quarantines forced county residents to keep their dogs inside or on a leash at all times and to bring pets' food inside to avoid having a rabid animal get saliva on it.
The ADHS says rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms begin to appear but because of quick treatment, the 47 Arizonans exposed to rabies last year all lived.
For more information about rabbis treatment and suggestions, check out the ADHS Web site here.