Three people in the central Arizona community of Cottonwood were exposed to rabies after being attacked by a wild bobcat.

It all began when the animal attacked and scratched a woman who had gotten out of her car after thinking she had hit it.

A short time later, Cottonwood police got a report of a bobcat acting aggressively toward a woman outside a Pizza Hut.

Then, about an hour later, the bobcat wandered into the Chapparal Bar on Main Street forcing patrons up on their barstools.

Two men who were bitten before police shot and killed the animal in the parking lot.

Test later confirmed it was rabid.

Rabies is an acute viral infection that is transmitted to humans by a bite or by the exposure of broken skin to an infected animal's saliva, the National Institutes of Health reported in its Web Site. There is no cure for rabies once symptoms develop. But, if vaccinated promptly after being bitten — preferably within 24 hours but certainly within 72 hours – the disease can usually be prevented.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.