Division of Public Health: Rabid cat bites person in Millsboro

MILLSBORO — Sussex County residents that live in the residential area of Mount Joy Road, between Townsend and Cannon Roads in Millsboro, are being advised by Delaware’s Division of Public Health of a positive case of rabies that has been found in a stray cat that recently bit a human.

The victim was bitten by the cat while attempting to provide aid to the animal after it was hit by a car in the victim’s driveway. The individual has begun treatment for rabies exposure.

Anyone in this area who thinks they might have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with a stray cat should immediately contact their health care provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at 744-4995.

An epidemiologist is available 24/7. Anyone who thinks their pet may have been bitten by this cat should call their private veterinarian or the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) at 302-698-4630 or email rabies.hotline@state.de.us.

Since Jan. 1, 2018, the DPH has 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. DPH 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.

In addition, DPH recently announced Delaware’s first positive case of rabies in a human in nearly 80 years. A Felton woman died in August after contracting the disease.

Rabies is an infectious disease that affects 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.

DPH said rabies is also almost completely preventable. It recommends that members of the public take the following steps to stay clear of exposure:

• All dogs, cats, and ferrets 6 months of age and older are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Consider vaccinating livestock and horses as well. It is recommended to consult with a private veterinarian for any questions regarding whether an animal(s) should be vaccinated against rabies.

• Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.

• Spaying or neutering pets may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and, thus, reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.

• Do not keep a pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.

• Keep garbage securely covered.

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

For more information on the DPH rabies program, visit 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, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.

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