Note: This article has been updated with additional information.
SAFFORD — Five people, including a 4-year-old girl, a teenager and three adult males were attacked by a bobcat at a mountain campground Sunday. According to an Arizona Game and Fish Department news release, the animal was suspected of being rabid.
The incident occurred Sunday evening at Shannon Campground. The bobcat reportedly attacked the child unprovoked, then injured the others when they intervened. The victims were bitten and scratched; all were treated for rabies exposure at area hospitals and released, according to the news release.
Game and Fish personnel were on the scene Monday, attempting to locate the bobcat. Wildlife officials advised campers to avoid the Shannon and Snow Flat campgrounds during the search.
Regional Game and Fish Supervisor Raul Vega advised anyone who saw a bobcat in the area acting strangely to call the department as soon as possible at 623-236-7201. “Extreme aggressiveness occurs in the later stages of rabies. Other signs are being unsteady afoot, heavy salivation and extreme thirst,” Vega said.
Bobcats are usually no threat to humans unless they are cornered or harassed. Rabies is most often carried by skunks, bats and foxes, but those species sometimes transmit the disease to other animals like bobcats or javelina.