Arizona Game and Fish Department officials have confirmed that a javelina that attacked a man in the Northwest was rabid.
"It's unusual for a javelina to get rabies," said Mark Hart. "It is not clear how that would happen."
Hart, the public information officer for Arizona Game and Fish Department in Tucson, said occasionally a javelina might get into an altercation with a bobcat and get rabies that way, but that's rare. If a rabid mountain lion and a javelina got into an altercation, the javelina usually wouldn't survive.
He said the department is concerned with finding a rabid javelina and don't yet understand how the animal contracted the disease.
On Jan. 1, a 66-year-old man walking along Dove Mountain Path heard a noise behind him. When he turned around, a javelina charged and bit him around the knee and thigh, knocking him to the ground.
The javelina continued to attack the man as he was on the ground and didn't stop biting until a passing bicyclist hit the javelina on the head with a log.
A Marana police officer arrived on scene and followed the javelina in to the desert where he shot and killed it.
The man was taken to Oro Valley Hospital and treated for the bites and began the course of treatment for rabies.
Hart warned that Arizona is approaching the peak of a usual 2- to 3-year cycle for high concentrations of rabid animals. When the numbers of rabid animals increase, a similarly rapid decrease usually follows as the rabid animals die off.
Hart said a good indication that an animal that is rabid is if it appears drunk and unstable on its feet. He said it is a very debilitating disease in animals.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department advises against approaching wildlife in any manner. In Maricopa and Pima counties, it is illegal to feed any wildlife other than birds and ground squirrels.
"You can unwittingly attract predators," Hart said. "Say you start feeding deer or javelina in your backyard, you're going to draw in animals like mountain lions that prey on them."
Hart said this attack comes on the heels of a Dec. 23 rabid-bobcat attack of a person in Oracle and a year with a high number of confirmed rabid animals in Arizona, 261 in all. Roughly a third of those attacks were in Pima County.