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Stray cat with rabies bites person in Fredericksburg

Health officials have confirmed the presence of rabies in the 100 Block of Longstreet Ave. in the City of Fredericksburg.

A stray cat which had bitten a human was confirmed positive for rabies on April 2.   The cat was collected from the 100 Block of Longstreet Ave. on March 31.  The person bitten is receiving the Rabies Prevention Vaccinations. The rabid cat is believed to be part of a feral cat colony living in the area. It is possible other cats in the colony could be exposed and infectious with rabies.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It is preventable in animals through vaccinations, but is fatal to both animals and humans if left untreated. Exposure to rabies is considered any time a bite, scratch or other circumstance where saliva or Central Nervous System tissue from a rabid or potentially rabid animal enters an open, fresh wound or comes in contact with a mucous membrane by entering the eye, mouth, or nose.

The Code of Virginia requires pet owners of dogs and cats to maintain current rabies vaccinations for animals four months old and older. In addition, citizens should not approach or touch wild animals or unknown domestic animals, and report any abnormal behavior involving these animals. All animal bites and rabies exposures (from wild and domestic animals) must be reported to the Fredericksburg Health Dept. Ph.# 540-899-4142.

To help prevent the spread of rabies, everyone should:
· AVOID contact with wild animals and domestic animals you do not know.
· REPORT unusual acting animals.
· VACCINATE all your dogs, cats and ferrets and keep their vaccinations current.
· CALL your doctor and the local health department if you are exposed, or your veterinarian and local animal control if your pet is exposed.

Rabies vaccinations are required (Code of VA 3.2-6521) for domestic (dogs and cats) animals in order to protect people from getting rabies. A properly vaccinated domestic animal population breaks the transmission cycle of a wild animal infecting a domestic (pet) animal, and the (pet) domestic animal infecting the pet owner.

While intentions are good, animal owners should not put food out for stray or feral (wild domestic) animals. This will bring domestic and wild animals into close contact where transmission of the rabies virus can more likely occur. If you have pets that live outside, feed and water them in a manner that is not an attractant to wild animals.

For More Information Contact: Fredericksburg Health Department, Environmental Health Division, (540) 899-4142

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