June 24, 2024

WARREN COUNTY  A rabid kitten was found in the southern part of Warren County, near the Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department station, at 714 Rivermont Drive in Front Royal earlier this week.  The kitten was captured on Monday, June 17, along with two other cats, according to a Friday evening media release from the Lord Fairfax Health District.

The cats, believed to be feral, were captured and taken to a veterinarian, who noted abnormal behavior in one of the kittens the next day. That kitten was euthanized and subsequent testing revealed the kitten was infected with rabies. The other two cats were also euthanized, the release stated.

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 Warren County Health Department stresses that 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 18, should seek care in the nearest emergency department immediately. 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,” said Lord Fairfax Health Director, Dr. Colin Greene, “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.”

Dr. Green says it is not a good idea to support “colonies” of feral cats. Feeding stray cats or dogs without proper care only supports the animals’ unhealthy living environment, and any such animals should be reported to Animal Control. Anyone seeking to adopt a pet is highly encouraged to do so from a shelter, where the animals receive proper medical care.

The Health District strongly advises that citizens take the following steps to protect families and pets from exposure to rabies:

•       Never approach or touch wild animals, especially any raccoon, fox, skunk, or bat, particularly if it is behaving oddly or if it is seen in the daylight. These animals are the main carriers of rabies in the eastern United States.

•       Avoid stray cats and dogs. Feral or unknown cats and dogs may also carry rabies. Report bites or scratches from these animals to your physician or the Health Department.  Feral cats are especially dangerous.

•       If you are bitten, scratched, or licked by any of these animals, seek medical attention immediately.  Rabies is fatal to both animals and humans once symptoms begin, but it can be prevented in humans if they receive proper treatment soon after exposure.

•       If the attack is from a cat, dog, or ferret, try to identify or capture it if safely possible.  Rabies can be ruled out if these animals are observed to remain healthy for ten days.

•       Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies (even if they don’t go outdoors) and keep their shots up to date.  Even working cats on farms should be vaccinated, for their safety and yours.

•       Do not feed wild animals. Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.

•       Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.  (Electric collars work on cats, too.)

•       If one of your domestic animals is bitten or otherwise interacts with a wild animal, notify the local Health Department and animal control officer at once.

•       Please cooperate when the Health Department calls for information.  They are not seeking to take people’s pets from them.  They  want to keep track of pets to stop the spread of rabies.

 

Additional information on rabies is available from the Virginia Department of Health  here.

For questions or more information, call the Warren County Health Department at 540-635-3159.

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