Shortly after Noon on Monday, November 20, 2017, the Pitt County Public Health Department received a report from Pitt County Animal Services that a stray, short-haired, gray cat in Ayden had tested positive for rabies. It then became known that two people had been exposed to this cat approximately two weeks prior. Those individuals have since received prophylaxis or treatment to help prevent them from contracting rabies. The cat is now deceased but may have exposed other people prior to its death.
Pitt County Health Director, Dr. John H. Morrow, MD, MPH advises others, who may have been exposed to this cat through direct contact, to visit their healthcare provider or go to the hospital’s emergency department for evaluation and possible treatment. For questions on what qualifies as direct contact, please contact the Communicable Diseases Nurse with the Pitt County Health Department at 252-902-2340.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals, often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal like raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Rabies infects the central nervous system causing disease in the brain and death.
Individuals should be careful not to approach wild animals and to also keep their pets away from them. This includes the touching of dead animals because the rabies virus can also be transmitted after death through contact with the animal’s saliva and brain tissue.
The State Laboratory of Public Health reports that in 2016, there were 251 cases of animal rabies confirmed in North Carolina and ten of those cases were in cats. The majority of these cases however were among raccoons.
For more information about rabies in North Carolina, visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services / NC Public Health Epidemiology website at: http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/rabies.html