Area health officials warned residents about rabies Saturday after a cat found in Shenandoah County tested positive for the disease.
The Lord Fairfax Health District advised in a media release that a neighborhood resident and a stray cat were found to be in an altercation on Massanutten Drive in Edinburg on Wednesday. The cat was caught, euthanized and tested positive for rabies, according to the release.
District officials warn that anyone who believes he or she had any contact with a stray black cat in the vicinity should consider it a potential rabies exposure. This applies to humans and domestic animals, the release states. Any person or pet possibly exposed should receive an immediate medical evaluation, according to the release.
The Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page Friday that a deputy with the Animal Control Division responded to the area of Massanutten Road Thursday for a report that a cat bit a person. The deputy found the cat and took it to a veterinarian for an examination, the post states.
The Health Department notified the Sheriff’s Office on Friday that the cat tested positive for rabies. Authorities searched the area for other animals possibly infected but did not find any, the post notes.
The Sheriff’s Office goes on to state that the Health Department plans to canvas the neighborhood with animal control officers to speak with residents.
The Sheriff’s Office advises anyone who sees an animal acting aggressive or strange or who has been bitten to contact the agency at 540-459-6100.
The Health Department warns people to never approach or touch wild animals, such as raccoons, foxes, skunks or bats — the main carriers of rabies in the eastern United States — if seen in daylight or behaving oddly. Avoid stray cats and dogs. Feral or unknown cats or dogs might also carry rabies. Report bites or scratches from these animals to a physician or the Health Department, the release states.
Do not feed wild animals or stray cats or dogs and eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.
Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies even if they do not go outside. Also vaccinate all working barn cats.
Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash. If a domestic animal is bitten or interacts with a wild animal, notify the Health Department and an animal control officer at once and have the animal seen by a veterinarian.
Anyone bitten, scratched or licked by any of these animals should seek immediate medical attention. Rabies can kill animals and humans once symptoms begin. Death can be prevented in humans if they receive the vaccine and medication soon after exposure.
Contact the Shenandoah County Health Department at 459-3733 or http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/ for more information.
The Lord Fairfax Health District covers Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren.