Pleasantville resident bitten by rabid cat

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PLEASANTVILLE - A feral cat that had been bitten by a raccoon has tested positive for rabies, according to Atlantic County Division of Public Health officials.

The cat’s owner, a Mallard Court resident, surrendered the cat to county officials last week after the animal had displayed neurological symptoms, according to Linda Gilmore, county spokeswoman.

The cat was bitten in November and was sent to the state lab for testing on Dec. 4, she said.

An investigation by the Division of Public Health found the property owner had been bitten by the cat while trying to capture it outdoors. As a result, the property owner has started post-exposure rabies treatment.

Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Health officials said it is most common in raccoons and bats, but has also been found in foxes, skunks, cats, groundhogs and other wildlife.

Of the county’s four rabies cases this year, this is the first involving a cat and the first in Pleasantville. The previous cases involved raccoons in Estell Manor and Egg Harbor Township and a bat in Northfield.

Atlantic County reported 12 rabies cases in 2011 which included nine raccoons, two bats and one groundhog.

Health officials warn residents to vaccinate their pets to protect them against rabies.

The Atlantic County Animal Shelter offers a free rabies vaccination clinic to residents each month at 240 Old Turnpike Road, Pleasantville.

If you have been bitten or exposed to an animal through a scratch or had any contact with the animal’s saliva, you should seek immediate medical attention and report the bite to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health at (609) 645-5971.

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