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Condition worsens for mountain lion victim

1/29/2007

SAN FRANCISCO — A Northern California hiker attacked by a
mountain lion last week was airlifted to a San Francisco hospital
Sunday, where he will likely undergo more surgery.

A spokesman for Mad River Community Hospital in Arcata said
doctors wanted to send 70-year-old Jim Hamm to a major research
hospital in San Francisco after they performed emergency surgery on
his scalp and downgraded his condition from fair to serious.

Hamm first underwent surgery Wednesday after a female mountain
lion ambushed him at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

He and his
wife, Nell, were hiking when the lion scalped him, mauled his face,
ripped off part of his lips and inflicted other puncture wounds and
scratches.

Hamm is taking antibiotics to prevent infection, but doctors
remained concerned about bacteria entering his body from the cat's
claws and mouth.

``Infection — that's our biggest concern,'' Ayotte said.

Hamm's wife, Nell, 65, smashed the cat in the snout with a large
branch and stabbed it with a pen to fend off the attack.

After the
attack, game wardens closed the park and shot and killed a pair of
lions. Researches identified the female as the attacker.