A kitten that had been taken in and cared for by a Hammonton couple has been confirmed as Atlantic County’s ninth rabies case of the year.
The Atlantic County Division of Public Health reports that the couple’s outdoor cat brought home three kittens in June that were cared for by a couple living on Washington Street. One kitten became ill and was taken to a veterinary hospital for treatment on August 18. It displayed neurological symptoms consistent with rabies and soon died. It was confirmed positive for rabies by the state lab on August 24.
This is the second confirmation of the viral disease in a cat this year. Other cases have involved bats, raccoons and a skunk.
An investigation by the Division of Public Health determined that the couple was exposed to the kitten’s saliva and scratches while under its care and has been advised to seek post-exposure treatment. Thirteen cats that were living at the couple’s home may also have been exposed. Vaccination records are incomplete at this time. Further monitoring and investigation is ongoing.
Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Atlantic County reported eight rabies cases in 2015 among bats, skunks, raccoons and a fox. Pet owners are advised to protect their pets with a rabies vaccination.
The Atlantic County Animal Shelter provides a free rabies vaccination clinic for dogs and cats once a month at 240 Old Turnpike Road in Pleasantville. Dogs must be brought on leashes and cats in carriers. For more information call 609-485-2345 or visit www.aclink.org/animalshelter.
Dogs and cats who receive an initial rabies vaccination are not considered immunized until 28 days after the vaccine has been administered, therefore it is strongly recommended that any animal newly vaccinated or those too young to receive the vaccine (less than three months) not be left outdoors unattended. Situations have arisen where pet owners have left unvaccinated or newly vaccinated pets outdoors where they have sustained exposures to known or suspect rabid animals, resulting in euthanasia or six months strict confinement.
Public health officials also advise residents to teach your children to stay away from wild, stray or aggressive animals. Never feed or touch wild animals or try to keep them as pets.
If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention. Report all animal bites to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health at 609-645-5971.
For more information about rabies control and precautions to protect your family and your pets, please visit the county Web site at www.aclink.org/publichealth or call 609-645-5971.