Medford Township: Rabid kitten exposes 13, prompts rabies advisory
A kitten that was submitted for rabies testing on July 25, 2014 has tested positive for rabies. The kitten was in the vicinity of Eaves Mill Rd, Route 541 and Route 70 in Medford Township, according to government officials.
The Burlington County Health Department is concerned that some individuals may have been in contact with this kitten.
To date, the Health Department has determined that three cats, one dog and 13 individuals have been exposed. All individuals have been advised to receive treatment and the dogs and cats will be follow strict public health precautions and will be evaluated for 6 months for possible rabies. They will be responding to the following areas today to follow up and provide information to residents residing in these affected areas: Medford Mill, Medford Mews, Cherry Street, and Firehouse Lane.
The Burlington County Health Department warns homeowners who allow their pets to roam outside unattended to check the status of their pets’ last rabies shot. If it has been longer than one year, a booster shot should be given.
County Health Officer Holly Cucuzzella said, “Rabies is transmitted from infected mammals to humans usually through a bite, but scratches and saliva contact with broken skin or mucous membranes are also possible routes. Any person who had direct contact with the cat may have been exposed to rabies and should contact their doctor as soon as possible.”
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 55,000 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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