A feral cat captured in northern Shenandoah County has tested positive for rabies, the Lord Fairfax Health District of the Virginia Department of Health reported Wednesday.
The cat attacked a person without provocation, according to a Health Department news release. The animal was euthanized and sent for testing, “which revealed that it was indeed ill with rabies.”
This is at least the fourth case of a cat with rabies in the Northern Shenandoah Valley this year and the second one in Shenandoah County within a week. The last one was reported in Edinburg on June 26.
On June 27, the county Animal Control Division was dispatched to the area of Macs Mountain Road north of Strasburg for a report that a cat had bitten a human, the Sheriff’s Office wrote in Facebook post. The tabby was transported by the Sheriff’s Office to the county Health Department for testing.
The Sheriff’s Office was notified by the Health Department on July 2 that the cat had tested positive for rabies.
“The area has been searched for other animals that may have been infected,” the Facebook post said. “At this time no other animals have been located in the area.”
Although the address of incident was in Strasburg, Lord Fairfax Health Director Dr. Colin Greene said the area is quite remote and is almost in Frederick County.
“For the few people who do live around there,” Greene said, “[the report will] let them know that there was a rabid cat.”
The Health Department reported a rabid cat in Winchester in late April and a rabid kitten in Front Royal on June 21.
In total, the Lord Fairfax Health District of the Virginia Department of Health has reported 22 cases of rabies around its coverage area this year.
The Health Department advises anyone who’s been bitten by a wild or feral animal or an animal that might have rabies to seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is highly treatable in humans if discovered before symptoms begin. Cats, dogs and ferrets that may have been infected can also be monitored for rabies symptoms.
“While this cat is no longer a threat, it may have interacted with other animals, including other cats, in the area while it was sick,” Greene stated in the release.
“Feral cats have a particularly high risk of carrying rabies, almost as much as some wild animals, and contact with any feral cat is risky, especially one that appears ill, and especially in that vicinity.”
Anyone who notices an animal acting aggressively or strangely, or anyone who’s been bitten by an animal they don’t know, should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 540-459-6100 or the Health Department at 540-459-3733.