Rabid cat found in Dover mobile home park

Officials say a rabid cat has been found at a mobile home park in Dover. The Delaware Division of Public Health says a cat living at Kings Cliff Mobile Home Park in Dover has tested positive for rabies.

They say they are working closely with Dover Animal Control, to alert the neighborhood by going door-to-door with flyers. Three people have reportedly been recommended to start post-exposure treatment to prevent rabies. DPH is advising that anyone who thinks they may have been bitten, scratched, or had saliva contact with feral cats in the Kings Cliff area, should call their healthcare provider, or call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 888-295-5156.

The cat that has tested positive at Kings Cliff was a calico female, a mix of yellow, brown, black, and gray. DPH says that rabies is endemic in Delaware, and residents should be sure to keep pets up-to-date with shots.

Since January 2015, DPH has performed rabies tests on 87 animals, nine of which were confirmed to be rabid, including this cat. DPH says they only test animals when there is potential human exposure, so there are likely more than the numbers show.

Signs of rabies in animals include daytime activity in normally nocturnal animals, wild animals approaching humans or other animals, and difficulty walking or moving, while some may appear aggressive.

Infections can happened by bite or scratch of an infected animal, or if saliva from an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or an opening in the skin, and once symptoms appear, rabies can’t be cured, which is why post-exposure prophylaxis is suggested to those who may have come in contact with a rabid animal.

DPH offers the following steps to avoid rabies:
· Do not feed stray animals.
· Never handle wild animals such as bats, raccoons, skunks, or foxes. This includes sick, injured or dead animals.
· If you wake up in a room with a bat present, seek medical attention regardless of the evidence of a bite or a scratch and call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 888-295-5156. If possible, trap the bat for testing. Do not release the bat.
· If bitten by an animal, place the wound under a running tap water and clean it thoroughly using soap for about five minutes. Exposed mucous membranes should be well rinsed with water. A virucidal antiseptic such as povidone-iodine, iodine tincture, aqueous iodine solution, or alcohol (ethanol) should be applied after washing. If there is no profuse bleeding, do not try to close up or stitch the wound. Seek medical attention immediately.
· Teach children never to approach or handle unfamiliar domestic or wild animals, even if they appear friendly. Never leave a child unattended with an animal, no matter how friendly or docile the animal appears.
· Keep pet vaccinations up-to-date. Delaware law requires that all dogs, cats, and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies.
· Keep cats and ferrets indoors and dogs on a leash under direct supervision. Homeless pets are vulnerable to rabies. Help reduce unwanted animals by spaying and neutering pets.
· Prevent bats and raccoons from entering homes by capping chimneys with screens and blocking openings in attics, cellars, and porches. Ensure trash cans have tight latching lids.

In an effort to promote 100 percent vaccination of all companion animals in Delaware, decrease human-wildlife conflicts, and promote responsible pet care-taking, DPH also recommends the following:
· By law, all cats, dogs, and ferrets over the age of 6 months must be vaccinated against rabies. DPH also recommends vaccinating against other diseases, such as distemper and the parvo virus.
· Pet cats should be kept indoors for their own safety and well-being. Cats can live happy lives indoors with proper enrichment and family play time. Cats that roam outside can be hit by cars, attacked by other animals, or can be exposed to parasites and diseases.
· If you care for cats living outdoors, ensure those cats are current on rabies vaccinations and are spayed or neutered. Spaying/neutering cats will eliminate the urge to fight, reducing the likelihood of disease transmission through bite injuries.
· Never feed wildlife intentionally or unintentionally with unsecured trash. If you care for cats living outdoors, always remove uneaten food after feeding times. This will prevent unwanted wildlife from being attracted to the food and wandering into places where people also reside. This will reduce the likelihood of wildlife attacks on humans or pets.
· Never approach or handle unfamiliar free-roaming cats. If there are free-roaming cats living in your area, contact a local organization with the expertise and training to trap the cats to have them vaccinated and spayed or neutered to improve neighborhood safety from disease and reduce unwanted litters.

For more information about rabies, visit <http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/rabies.html>.

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