Two people are undergoing rabies post-exposure treatment after the state Health Department laboratory confirmed that a feral adult cat in Groveland Station in the town of Groveland has tested positive for rabies, Livingston County Public Health Director Jennifer Rodriguez said.
The laboratory confirmed the test Nov. 16. The cat was confirmed to have bitten two people prior to testing, Rodriguez said.
The individuals are receiving treatment to prevent rabies virus infection, according to the county health department.
The cat was known to have delivered a litter of kittens recently. The kittens were not seen after Nov. 7. It is believed that the kittens did not survive, but if anyone is aware of any extremely young, unweaned kittens being picked up in the Groveland Station area after Nov. 7 they are asked to contact the Livingston County Department of Health at (585) 243-7280.
Rabies is a deadly virus that attacks the central nervous system in mammals. It is most frequently found in raccoons, skunks, and bats in Livingston County, though cases have also occurred in cats, woodchucks and cows.
Three or four rabies positive animals a year has been typical in Livingston County for the past decade.
It is important to note that there is no way to tell if an animal is rabid just by looking at it, said Rodriguez.
Wild and feral animals should always be avoided. Signs of rabies in wildlife include: inability to walk, appearance of drunkenness, unwillingness to drink water or eat, drooling, aggressive behavior, or any significant change in temperament.
All potential rabies exposures should be reported to the county Department of Health. The department can be reached by phone at (585) 243-7270 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org/.
All mammals, including unvaccinated dogs, cats, and farm animals, are at risk for getting rabies.
State law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations, beginning at four months of age. An unvaccinated pet that comes into contact with a rabid animal must be kept in strict confinement for six months or be euthanized.
Free rabies clinics are offered for dogs, cats, and ferrets every year in Livingston County. For information on clinic dates, contact the health department.
The Department of Health shares the following tips to help prevent rabies:
■ Stay away from unfamiliar animals, either wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. Be suspicious of wild animals that are unusually tame or aggressive, especially those that attack your pets.
■ If you are bitten by an animal, immediately wash the wound with soap and water, seek medical attention and report the incident to the Livingston County Department of Health.
■ Avoid wild and feral animals, especially if the animal is showing any sign of rabies.
■ Be a responsible pet owner by keeping your pet’s vaccinations current. Getting your pets vaccinated can help stop the spread of rabies from wild animals to humans.
■ Do not attract raccoons, stray dogs, stray cats or other wild animals to your yard by feeding them.
■ Teach children not to touch any animal they do not know and to tell an adult immediately if they are bitten by an animal.
■ By law, all dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies. Make sure horses and valuable livestock are also up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
■ Keep family pets indoors at night. Don’t leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.
■ Wear gloves when handling pets after any involvement with suspected rabid wild animals. Pet owners should keep a pair of thick gloves handy for just such situations. Bathe pets after wildlife encounters using rubber gloves.
■ If a bat is found in your home or cabin, do not let it go. Isolate it in a single room and contact the Livingston County Department of Health to discuss the potential for exposure. In some cases the bat can be tested for rabies. Immediately report any possible contact with bats, especially contact with sleeping persons, unattended children, or individuals with impairments.
For more information on rabies or rabies vaccination clinics, contact the Livingston County Department of Health at (585) 243-7280 or visit www.livingstoncounty.us/eh.