A rabid kitten was captured in Front Royal, the Lord Fairfax Health District announced Friday evening.
The kitten was captured on June 17, along with two other cats near the Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department station 714 Rivermont Drive in Front Royal, according to a district news release.
The cats were believed to be feral and taken to a veterinarian, who noted abnormal behavior in the kitten the next day, indicating a rabies infection. All three cats were euthanized.
“Rabies is a deadly disease that is 100% fatal once symptoms begin, but it can be prevented with treatment if begun shortly after exposure,” the release says.
Anyone who received a bite or scratch, or was otherwise exposed to the saliva of any stray cat or kitten in the area of Rivermont Drive, between June 8 and Tuesday, should seek care at the nearest emergency department immediately, the Warren County Health Department advised in the release. Pets who may have interacted with these cats should be seen by a veterinarian.
“Feral cats have a particularly high risk of carrying rabies, almost as much as some wild animals,” Lord Fairfax Health Director Dr. Colin Greene says in the release, “so the rabid kitten’s disease may be present in other stray cats in the area, who may develop symptoms in the weeks to come. Contact with any feral cat is risky, especially one that appears ill, and especially in that vicinity.”
The Health District strongly advises people to avoid wild and feral cats, don’t leave food out that might attract wild or feral animals, and seek medical attention if they or their pets interact with a wild or feral animal they don’t know.
Animals showing symptoms of rabies act abnormally because rabies attacks the nervous system. Normally friendly pets might be aggressive, and normally wild animals might not be afraid of humans, as they should be.
Virginia law requires all pets be vaccinated against rabies, even if they don’t go outside. Vaccinated pets who have interacted with a wild or feral animal should still be seen by a veterinarian to receive a booster shot and be watched for symptoms.
Please cooperate when the Health Department calls for information on rabies around the area, the release says.
“We are not seeking to take people’s pets from them,” the department says. “We do want to keep track of them so we can stop the spread of rabies.”
For more information, visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/ or www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax/, or call the Warren County Health Department at 540-635-3159.