Golfer Attacked By Rabid Bobcat. Learn How You Can Be Proactive About Rabies5 years ago | Proactive Health
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
I love golf, so the following story really caught my attention.
In Connecticut, four golfers had an unexpected visitor on the fairway. This visitor was a bobcat. Reportedly, the bobcat jumped on one of the golfer’s backs. Luckily, he was able to fight the animal off with a golf club, but the victim (believed to be in his 60s) sustained cuts to his back and legs.
As if this was not traumatic enough, it turns out that the bobcat also had rabies.
What is rabies?
Rabies is an illness most of us only imagine happening to someone in a movie. A person infected usually becomes this wild, rabid creature foaming at the mouth who everyone must avoid.
Although rare in the United States (only 1 to 3 cases reported annually), rabies is a serious virus that infects the brain. In fact, rabies is considered by many as one of the world’s deadliest viruses, along with the Ebola and Dengue viruses. Once the rabies virus enters the muscle tissue of the host, it travels to the brain where it multiplies and usually causes death. Rabies is not an airborne virus, like the flu.
“Rabies can’t go through unbroken skin. People can get rabies only via a bite from a rabid animal or possibly through scratches, abrasions, open wounds or mucous membranes in contact with saliva or brain tissue from a rabid animal,” reports The Humane Society of the United States.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dogs [their bites] are the main cause of deaths due to rabies in humans, contributing up to 99% of all rabies transmission to humans. WHO also reports that rabies causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, mostly in Asia and Africa.
Being attacked by bobcats is rare and overall so is getting rabies in the United States, however, it never hurts to be informed about this issue (especially if you are traveling to an area where rabies is more common).
What to do if attacked by an animal?
- Clean the wound
It is extremely important to wash wounds right away with both warm water and soap. If you take this proactive step, you can significantly reduce your chance of contracting rabies after being bitten. WHO actually details extensive wound washing, “This involves first-aid of the wound that includes immediate and thorough flushing and washing of the wound for a minimum of 15 minutes with soap and water, detergent, povidone iodine or other substances that kill the rabies virus.”
- Seek treatment immediately
"It destroys the brain, it's a really, really bad disease," said an Ebola virus expert and associate professor of microbiology at Boston University, in this report.
"We have a vaccine against rabies, and we have antibodies that work against rabies, so if someone gets bitten by a rabid animal we can treat this person...if you don't get treatment, there's a 100 percent possibility you will die."
- Be safe, not sorry.
Symptoms and signs of rabies do not always surface immediately. To further complicate things, symptoms may show as early as nine days after exposure or as late as seven years! So if you get bitten by an animal, especially while traveling outside of the U.S., it is imperative to wash the wound with soap and water right away and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Know that prevention is better than cure.
There is also a pre-exposure, a preventive, vaccination for rabies. This vaccination is usually administered to people who are at a higher risk of contracting rabies, including veterinarians and animal handlers.
How Else Can You Be Proactive About Rabies?
- Keep your distance from stray animals, especially while spending time outside of the United States.
- Educate yourself about where in the world rabies is most common. If you are traveling to one of those areas, speak with your doctor beforehand about what you can do to protect yourself.
- Travel with a first aid kit and look up hospitals and emergency centers in the areas where you are traveling to.
You can also make sure you are getting enough vitamin C in order to quickly recover from a wound. Finally, you should never overlook the importance of boosting your immune system by being nutritionally balanced. The proper amount of nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, may make it easier to combat many viruses and diseases. But rabies may require more than just a strong immune system. It is a preventable virus, so the goal is to always prevent it but if contracted, treatment must be administered asap.
Enjoy your healthy life!
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