Woman exposed to rabies recovers
The LaCrosse resident was bitten by a bobcat
By Cindy Swirko
A LaCrosse woman is recovering physically from an attack by a rabid bobcat, but finding the courage to go outside her house is another matter.
Diana Vaughn, 51, was bit on the hand on Dec. 28 by the 25-pound bobcat as she put her hands to her neck to protect herself from the springing feline.
Vaughn has gotten rabies shots and spent nine days in the hospital because the wounds became infected. She’s on the mend but skittish.
“It was scary. I’m paranoid to go outside. I saw my life flash in front of me because it could kill you, especially since he was going for my face,” Vaughn said. “I got admitted to the hospital because my hand got infected. The pain was excruciating, especially when it got infected.”
Anthony Dennis, Alachua County Health Department environmental director, said a rabies alert was not issued for the case because it was the only rabid animal found in the area. He said alerts are typically issued when at least two are found.
Dennis added that he determined that the bobcat had not been in contact with Vaughn’s husband or with the family’s pet cat.
“We have had no other reports out there,” Dennis said. “If we get two animals we would consider doing a rabies alert. This appears to be isolated. If you have multiple cases in a certain area we would, but we haven’t had anything else from over there.”
Vaughn said the bobcat was by a picture window at the front of the house trying to get the family cat, Simon, which had jumped onto a wood pile. Vaughn’s husband, Steve, got a gun.
Vaughn went out the front door to get Simon, and the bobcat saw her.
“He charged at me and jumped through the air at my neck. I put my hand up to protect myself and he bit my hand,” she said.
The bobcat charged again, and Steve Vaughn said he used his rifle to keep it off his wife before shooting it.
“It was very aggressive,” he said. “I’ve been hunting for many years and have never seen anything like that, ever.”
They took the bobcat with them to the emergency room. An officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission got the bobcat from them.
The bobcat’s body was later tested and found to be rabid, forcing Vaughn to get a series of rabies shots in addition to the nine days in the hospital because of the infection.