Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 23, 2010

Health official: New exposure to rabid cat reported in Princeton

GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — A seventh person who reported a possible exposure to a rabid cat found in a Princeton neighborhood is now undergoing vaccine treatment, the Mercer County Health Department reported Monday.

Six people started post exposure rabies vaccine treatment last week after a cat that had scratched, bitten or touched them tested positive for rabies. Health officials asked anyone who thought they had been exposed to the cat, described as solid black and long-haired, to contact them.

Another person went Sunday to Princeton Community Hospital after reading about the rabid cat in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, said Melody Rickman, RN. BSN, of the county health department.

“We had one more person who came in and started treatment,” Rickman said.

This person, an adult, had not been bitten or scratched by the cat, but they had been exposed to another animal that may have had contact with it, she said.

“They were not scratched or bitten, but there was a question about the extent of the exposure,” Rickman explained. “But in cases like this when there is a possibility, you take all the precautions that you can.”

The cat is the seventh animal that has tested positive for rabies in Mercer County this year, she said. One skunk, one fox and four raccoons make the rest of the list. The animals have been found all across the county.

Pet owners are still being encouraged to get their dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies. Anyone who suspects that their pet has been exposed to a rabid animal should consult a veterinarian, Rickman said.

Rabid animals will behave abnormally. For example, stray dogs and cats that normally avoid people or run away when approached will suddenly seem tame. Nocturnal animals such as raccoons and skunks will allow themselves to be seen during the day. Some will even challenge much larger dogs for food. This is one reason why pet owners are advised not to leave cat or dog food outdoors.