Venango County Man Recovering After Being Attacked by Rabid Bobcat

| July 11, 2019

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – A Venango County man is recovering after being attacked by a rabid bobcat at his home on Saturday.

The incident occurred at a residence along Frozen Toe Road in Polk after 57-year-old Alex Fink’s wife heard something crying out in pain underneath their porch and thought it was a domestic cat.

Fink went to the porch to remove several boards to attempt to rescue the animal, and that’s when the bobcat attacked.

“It came out from where it was, and it attacked his upper torso area and bit him in the shoulder down to about his elbow,” Game Warden Jason Amory told WPXI.

Following the attack, the couple contacted authorities, and Amory was dispatched to the scene. When Amory arrived, he could immediately hear the animal growling from under the porch.

“There weren’t really any good options for me because the porch was really on the ground, and I wasn’t going to crawl under a crawl space with a potentially rabid animal, so I had to actually euthanize it,” Amory explained.

The animal was found to also have its face covered with porcupine quills.

After the dangerous animal was put down, tests determined it was carrying rabies.

According to Amory, the same bobcat is believed to have attacked a puppy on nearby Twin Oaks Road just a few hours earlier. The puppy was left with puncture wounds to its neck.

Fink had his arms, head, and upper torso scratched and bitten by the bobcat. He was rushed to a Grove City Hospital for treatment.

Both Fink and the puppy that was also attacked are now undergoing rabies shots to prevent the deadly disease.

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, rabies is most often transmitted in saliva via the bite of an infected animal, but it may also be transmitted by non-bite exposures, which include infected saliva entering an open wound or the eyes or mouth.

The period of incubation for rabies can vary greatly from species to species and can take anywhere from one to three months. Animals infected may then exhibit abnormal behavior, including excitability, apparent lack of fear, or aggression. This is known as furious rabies.

Dumb rabies is characterized by a loss of coordination and paralysis. These symptoms will eventually lead to coma and death within one to ten days of the onset of the symptoms.

However, sometimes infected animals will appear normal, and as clinical signs can vary widely and resemble many other conditions, a diagnosis cannot be reached based on clinical signs alone. Rabies diagnoses cannot be accurately determined in live animals, so rabies suspects must be euthanized and submitted for laboratory testing. The brain must be intact and should be refrigerated (not frozen) before testing.

There is no currently accepted treatment for rabies; however, there have been a few reports of individuals surviving after being infected. Prevention is key, and vaccination has been very successful in domestic animals.

If someone has been bitten by a possibly rabid animal, the wound should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and medical attention should be sought immediately. Post-exposure treatment administered before clinical signs appear can prevent the development of rabies nearly 100% of the time.

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