The State Public Health Lab in Raleigh Thursday reported a positive rabies result in a kitten from Cumberland County. Animal Control picked up a kitten on Wednesday, July 6, at the Animal Hospital of Fayetteville on Fort Bragg Road.
The kitten, which was approximately 4 months old, got into an alteration with an unknown animal sometime around May 25. The owner took the kitten to the Animal Hospital of Fayetteville for treatment of bite wounds to the rear limb and a fractured tibia. The cat had been seen and treated multiple times for its injuries.
Veterinarian staff reported that neurological symptoms appeared on July 4 or 5. The kitten’s owner resides on Pecan Drive, off of McPherson Avenue, in Fayetteville. The owner was informed that the cat needed to be euthanized and sent for testing.
Animal Control has notified eight people that they must receive rabies post-exposure treatment. The owner and three employees of the animal hospital were bitten and/or scratched. Two other employees, the owner’s roommate and a friend also handled the cat. It has also been confirmed yesterday that there is an unvaccinated cat and ferret in the residence.
Rabies is an acute viral infection that is transmitted to humans or other mammals usually through the saliva from a bite of an infected animal. It is also rarely contracted through breaks in the skin or contact with mucous membranes. It has been suggested that airborne transmission is possible in caves where there are heavy concentrations of bats.
According to the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, all mammals are susceptible to rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, coyotes and cats are the likely suspects. Other animals like otters and ferrets are also high risk. Mammals like rabbits, squirrels, rodents and opossums are rarely infected.
Rabies infected animals can appear very aggressive, attacking for no reason. Some may act very tame. They may look like they are foaming at the mouth or drooling because they cannot swallow their saliva. Sometimes the animal may stagger (this can also be seen in distemper). Not long after this point they will die. Most animals can transmit rabies days before showing symptoms.
Initially, like in many diseases, the symptoms of rabies are non-specific; fever, headache and malaise. This may last several days. At the site of the bite, there may be some pain and discomfort. Symptomsthen progress to more severe: confusion, delirium, abnormal behavior and hallucinations. If it gets this far, the disease is nearly 100% fatal.
Although worldwide it is estimated that there are more than 59,000 deaths due to rabies annually,human rabies cases are extremely rare in the United States, which averages less than five human rabies cases annually.
Human rabies is prevented by administration of rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin.
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