A stray cat that scratched a person in the Durden Road area of Prattville was confirmed to be rabid earlier this week by the Alabama Department of Public Health. The cat was seen in the neighborhood acting aggressively towards a nearby resident’s cat. The onlooker was scratched by the rabid cat following trying to separate the animals.
The stray cat was taken to the Prattville/Autauga County Humane Shelter and was subsequently tested for rabies. The health department routinely tests animals that have exposed people and other animals for rabies, especially when the animal is a stray or has an unknown vaccination status. Additionally, an investigation occurs to make sure that all persons that were potentially exposed are treated appropriately to prevent a rabies infection from developing.
Animals that are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal are usually treated with a booster rabies vaccine and a short quarantine period. According to Dr. Dee W. Jones, state public health veterinarian, keeping your pets vaccinated is the best way to ensure that the animal is protected from such encounters with a rabid animal. A pet that is exposed to rabies that is currently vaccinated is very unlikely to develop rabies and is allowed to undergo a much less strict quarantine following a booster vaccine dose.
Dr. Jones continues by saying that the costs owners potentially faces are much less if their pet stays currently vaccinated, so he urges people to remain aware of their animal’s vaccination status.
The rabies virus is transmitted by saliva. In general, rabies exposure requires direct contact with infected saliva, usually through a bite or a scratch, but other less common contact exposures with mucous membranes (eyes, nose and mouth) are also considered as potential exposures.
Area residents are advised to take the following precautions to avoid possible exposure to rabies:
· Do not allow pets to run loose; confine them within a fenced-in area or with a leash.
· Do not leave uneaten pet food or scraps near your residence.
· Do not illegally feed or keep wildlife as pets.
· Do not go near wildlife or domestic animals that are acting in a strange or unusual manner.
· Caution children not to go near any stray or wild animal, regardless of its behavior.
· Advise children to tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by any animal.
A person who is bitten or scratched by an animal should wash wounds immediately with mild soap and water, apply first aid, and seek medical attention or contact the county health department immediately.
Alabama state law requires that dogs, cats and ferrets 12 weeks of age and older be current with rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccines are also available for horses and other livestock if recommended by a veterinarian. Vaccinating animals reduces the risk of rabies infection should an exposure occur; thus, vaccinations help protect animals, as well as their owners and caretakers.
For more information about rabies and prevention, please contact ADPH at 1-800-338-8374 or (334) 206-5100 or visit https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/rabies.html.