- Dressed only in underwear and a T-shirt, a man rescued
his wife from the jaws of a rabid coyote that attacked her in their back
yard yesterday, clubbing it with a piece of lumber. The woman, aged 44,
was bitten on the left hand by a 45 pound female coyote at about 7 a.m.
as she tried to shoo it away from her dog. The dog was tethered to a run
in the back yard of the residence. The victim's husband beat the coyote
down with a 2-by-2, and police later killed it. The victim is believed
to be the 1st person ever attacked by a rabid coyote in Massachusetts and
only the second person ever attacked by a coyote in the state, according
to state wildlife officials.
- The only other recorded attack on a human by a coyote
also occurred on Cape Cod. In 1998, a coyote snatched a 3 year old boy
from a swing set in Sandwich. His mother intervened and the boy was not
- The victim was treated at Cape Cod Hospital and released
before noon. Doctors gave her tetanus shots and started a regimen of rabies
vaccinations, [presumably this waspost-exposure prophylaxis - Mod.TG] although
they did not know then that the animal was rabid.
- Last night, after the state health department diagnosed
the coyote as rabid, the victim's husband said doctors told his wife she
would need additional shots over the next 28 days.
- A Barnstable Animal Control Officer retrieved the coyote's
carcass, and prepared it for rabies testing at a state lab in Boston. Biologists
interviewed yesterday said coyotes can carry rabies, but rarely do. From
1992 to 2002, only 6 of 65 coyotes tested for rabies in the state registered
positive, according to Tom O'Shea of MassWildLife, a division of the state
Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Coyote sightings have become common
throughout Massachusetts in recent years, coinciding with growing reports
of disappearing cats, dogs, and, in at least one case, turkeys.
- But biologists do not have any reliable population estimates,
or evidence of a population explosion, they said yesterday. Coyotes tend
to move in packs of 3 or 4 and occupy a territory of 5 to 10 square miles,
according to Jonathan Way, a Boston College doctoral candidate who tracks
coyotes on the Cape. Way said housing developments in once-wild areas have
brought people and wildlife, including coyotes, closer together. "The
Cape is pretty much saturated with coyotes," he said. "The key
is to learn how to avoid interaction."
- The victim said coyotes are a common sight in her neighborhood,
which borders several acres of undeveloped water department land, but none
has ever menaced her or her family until yesterday. Neighborhood pets are
another matter. The victim's husband stated he believed his was the only
cat left in the neighborhood. The victim's dog was taken to the veterinarian
later in the afternoon yesterday. The veterinarian said the dog showed
no signs of puncture wounds, but suffered a sprained leg.
- [Hopefully, the dog was vaccinated against rabies. The
veterinarian should have re-vaccinated the dog - Mod.TG]
- (Rabies in coyotes may be rare only on Cape Cod. It is
prevalent in coyotes
- in other parts of the United States. - Mod.TG)
- Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
- Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message
- Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
- Go with God and in Good Health