DIVISION OF PUBLIC HEALTH WARNS RESIDENTS OF CEDAR AVENUE AREA OF WILMINGTON ABOUT RABID CAT WHO BIT OR SCRATCHED AT LEAST FIVE PEOPLE
WILMINGTON (June 1, 2012) - Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) is warning residents of Cedar Avenue near Del. 141 in Wilmington (19805) who may have been exposed to a cat, found to be rabid by the Delaware Division of Public Health on Friday, June 1, 2012.
The cat has been caught by animal control and euthanized. The young, black and white domestic shorthair, has bitten or scratched at least five people residing on or near Cedar Avenue near Del. 141. Anyone who thinks they might have been bitten, scratched or had saliva contact with this cat should contact their healthcare provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at 302-744-1070. An epidemiologist is available 24/7.
Residents should always take precautions against rabies by avoiding wild animals and ensuring their pets are up-to-date with rabies shots. Warm summer temperatures lead to more outdoor activities increasing possible exposure to rabies through contact with animals such as bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes.
Since January 2012, DPH has performed rabies tests on 58 animals, six of which were confirmed to be rabid including one cat, one sheep and four raccoons. Rabies cannot be cured once symptoms appear. If the animal is of unknown origin, or unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends that people receive postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment, a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.
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
Fortunately, rabies is also almost 100 percent preventable. DPH recommends that members of the public take the necessary steps to stay clear of exposure to rabies. Rabies prevention starts with the animal owner. Vaccination of pets and livestock is a crucial factor in rabies prevention.
All dogs, cats and ferrets 6 months of age and older, are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies in the state of Delaware. Consider vaccinating valuable livestock and horses. Animals that have frequent contact with humans should alsol be vaccinated.
Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.
Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and thus reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
Do not feed or water your pets outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
Keep your garbage securely covered.
Do not handle unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.
For further information: Delaware Division of Public Health's rabies program: at www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/rabies.html or call 1-866-972-9705 or 302-744-1070.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/