'This thing pounced on me:' Woman attacked by coyote while gardening

Health officials urge Kissimmee-area residents to take precautions

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – An alert has been issued in Osceola County after a coyote tested positive for rabies, health officials said.

Robin O'Donnell said that she was bitten by a coyote while gardening in Kissimmee on Saturday inside the Emerald Island Resort.

"Before I could move, this thing pounced on me," O'Donnell said. "It just kept clamping down on my thigh."

O'Donnell said that she went to the hospital to be treated for the puncture wounds on her leg.

"It's not the most pleasant thing, the shots are painful. But, not as painful as getting rabies," O'Donnell said.

O'Donnell also said that she's concerned more infected animals could be lurking in the woods near her home.

"The real sad part is that now I don't want to go outside," O'Donnell said. "I feel like that's been taken away from me and nobody can assure me that that's not going to happen again."

A coyote attacks a woman near Kissimmee.

The Florida Department of Health in Osceola County issued a rabies alert Tuesday for the Kissimmee area.

"All residents and visitors in Osceola County should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population and domestic animals are at risk if not vaccinated," the Department of Health said. "The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in Osceola County. Alerts are designed to increase awareness to the public, but they should not get a false sense of security to areas that have not been named as under an alert."

The alert is for 60 days, centers on Sun Key Place and includes the following boundaries in Osceola County:

  • South to Choctaw Trail, Happy Trails, Kissimmee
  • North to Orange Resort West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway
  • East to Old Lake Wilson Road, Kissimmee
  • West to Westside Boulevard, Kissimmee

An animal with rabies could infect other wild or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated. All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure, will protect an exposed person from the disease.

Health officials said residents should take the following precautions:

  • Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.
  • Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact Osceola Animal Services at 407-742-8000 or Environmental Health at 407-742-8606.
  • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools and other similar areas where they might come in contact with people and pets.
  • Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Osceola County Epidemiology Program at 407-343-2155.


About the Author:

Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on ClickOrlando.com, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.