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Rabid stray cat bites Long Neck resident

September 13, 2018

A Long Neck resident was recently bit by a rabid cat and is undergoing treatment.

The resident was bitten while tending to the cat after it was struck by a car in the resident’s driveway, said Jennifer Brestel, spokeswoman for the Division of Public Health.

Brestel said residents who live in the area of Mount Joy and Cannon roads in Long Neck should be aware of rabies in the vicinity. Anyone in this area who thinks they might have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with a stray cat should immediately contact their healthcare provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at 302-744-4995, she said. An epidemiologist is available 24/7.

Brestel said anyone who thinks their pet may have been bitten by this cat should call their private veterinarian or the Delaware Department of Agriculture at 302-698-4630, or email rabies.hotline@state.de.us.

Since January 2018, Brestel said, public health officials have performed rabies tests on 107 animals, 10 of which were confirmed to be rabid, including three foxes, three raccoons, two cats (including this one), one dog and one horse. Rabies tests performed on four animals – one sheep, one bat and two dogs – were indeterminate. Public health only announces those rabies cases for which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with humans and there is a risk of exposure to the community, Brestel said. 

In August, Delaware's first positive case of rabies in a human in nearly 80 years occurred when a Felton woman died after contracting the disease. 

Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Infection can occur through the bite or scratch of an infected animal, or if saliva from such an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or an opening in the skin. Rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms appear, and therefore, if an animal that has exposed a human is unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends that people receive post-exposure prophylaxis treatment, a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.

Officials say rabies is almost completely preventable and recommends steps to stay clear of exposure: 

• Vaccinate pets against rablies

• Don’t let pets roam free

• Spay and neuter pets to reduce fights and potential rabies exposure

• Do not keep pet food or water outdoors because it can attract wild or stray animals

• Keep garbage securely covered

• Do not touch or otherwise handle wild or unfamiliar animals, even if they appear friendly.

For more information, go to http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/rabies.html, or call 1-866-972-9705 or 302-744-4995. For more information on rabies, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.