Woman attacked by rabid coyote

9:27 PM, Jun 19, 2007   |    comments
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The attack happened last Friday, June 15 at a farm south of the town of Holly in southeastern Colorado.

The last recorded rabid coyote attack was three decades ago.

Elsie Rushton, 87, was sitting out on her deck, enjoying the sunshine, when the coyote attacked. She says she first thought it was just a small dog running through her yard.

Rushton and her husband say they have lived in the house since 1948. They say they often see coyotes, but they rarely come onto their property.

This time, a coyote attacked Rushton, biting her on her legs and on her right arm.

"It came back through the yard here. The coyote come up through the stairs on the deck and jumped on my wife," said Rushton's 89-year-old husband, Hugh.

"It was terrible you know. Somebody grab a hold of your hand like that, something like a creature grabs a hold of your hand and tears it to pieces," said Rushton.

Hugh Rushton shot and killed the coyote and it later tested positive for rabies.

Rushton received seven stitches for her injuries. She has already had eight rounds of antibiotics, but doctors say she still needs more.

The coyote's brain tissue is now being sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further testing to determine what kind of rabies it had.

State health officials say it most likely got the disease from a bat. However, if it had the skunk strain of rabies, it is a bigger concern because skunks are more likely to spread the disease to other animals.

The most common carriers of rabies in Colorado are bats, but any wild animal can be infected and can transmit the disease through a bite.

If you or your children are bitten by a bat, dog, cat, raccoon or other mammal, you should wash the affected area immediately and seek medical advice.

People in Prowers County are being asked to be cautious and they have been ordered to make sure their pets are current on rabies vaccinations. They also want people to be on alert for any wild animals that are acting strangely, approaching humans or staggering.

For more information, contact the Prowers County health department at 719-336-8721 or the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at 303-692-2700.

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