Health district issues warning about rabid cat in Shenandoah County

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MAURERTOWN, Va. (WHSV) — The Virginia Department of Health is warning people in the northern Shenandoah Valley about a case of rabies confirmed this past weekend.

According to the Lord Fairfax Health District (which covers the city of Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties),at least three people around the Hillview subdivision in Maurertown were attacked by a black cat on Friday, July 27.

Attacks occurred on Nikita Drive and near Old Valley Pike.

The cat was found on the south end of Maurertown, captured by animal control, euthanized, and tested positive for a rabies infection.

While that specific feline no longer poses a threat, health officials want to advise anyone who believes they had contact with the cat, especially if they were bitten, scratched, or licked by it, to immediately go to the closest emergency room.

If your pet was exposed to the cat, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Once symptoms of rabies begin, the disease is 100% fatal. If it's treated shortly after exposure, before the beginning of symptoms, it can be quickly stopped, however.

For more information about this case, you can call the Shenandoah County Health Department at 540-459-3733.

If in doubt about rabies exposure, or if you have a question, call your local Health Department.

For tips on how to prevent your family and pets from being exposed to rabies the Health Department advises the following:

• Avoid stray cats and dogs. Feral or unknown cats and dogs may also carry rabies. Report bites or scratches from these animals to your physician or the Health Department.
• Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies (even if they don't go outdoors) and keep their shots up to date.
• Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.
• If one of your domestic animals is bitten or otherwise interacts with a wild animal, notify the local Health Department and animal control officer at once.
• Never approach or touch wild animals, especially any raccoon, fox, skunk, or bat, especially if it is behaving oddly or if it is seen in the daylight. These animals are the main carriers of rabies in the eastern United States.
• Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs. Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.

Additional information on rabies is available from the Virginia Department of Health.