A stray cat from a Prattville mobile home park has rabies, and one person is being treated for rabies prevention after being bitten by the feline, the Alabama Department of Public Health said Friday.
Meanwhile, officials are looking into whether other individuals were exposed to the wild cat that was captured in the Langford Court area of Autauga County Road 81 Mobile Home Park.
The cat was sent for rabies testing by the Prattville/Autauga County Humane Society. One person has been “undergoing immediate medical treatment to avoid human rabies infection,” according to the health department.
Dr. Dee W. Jones, the state public health veterinarian, noted that while human exposure to rabies is decreasing as a result of frequent dog and cat vaccinations given throughout the world, convincing people to renew their pets’ vaccines is difficult.
Under Alabama law, pets must be vaccinated against rabies.
Raccoons are the most common source of rabies in Alabama, and they pass on the infection to others during fights.
Strays are at the greatest danger since they are generally unvaccinated and more likely to come into contact with raccoons and other rabid animals.
This year’s case is only the second human attack by a rabid animal recorded in the state, and both cases were caused by stray cats.
The last human rabies death in Alabama was in 1995. That person had been bitten by a rabid dog while trying to protect his own pet.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system. It is usually spread through the bite of an infected animal but can be transmitted through the saliva if the animal licks a wound or other body fluid of a human or domestic animal.
The virus attacks nerve cells and can cause swelling in the brain, which damages tissue. It is almost always fatal to humans once symptoms start. Treatment must begin quickly.
“This second situation should serve as a not-so-obvious reminder to keep your animals up to date on their vaccines,” he concluded.
The CDC also offered these suggestions for avoiding rabies, which includes:
- Do not let your dogs run free; confine them to a fenced-in location or with a leash.
- Do not leave uneaten pet food or scraps around your home.
- Keeping wild animals as pets is illegal.
- Even if an animal appears strange or mad, do not approach it.
- Children should be warned not to get close to any stray or wild animal, even if it looks friendly, or even just give the stray cat a name
- Seek medical attention immediately if you are bitten or scratched by an animal, even if the wound does not appear to be serious.
- If you see an animal acting strange, contact your local animal control officer.
- Be sure to have your pets vaccinated against rabies and keep their shots up to date.
Wash wounds immediately with mild soap and water, apply first aid, and go to the hospital or contact the county health department as soon as possible following a bite or scratch from an animal, according to the health department.