The Virginia Beach Health Department received confirmation on April 10 that a cat tested positive for rabies. The cat was found as a stray following children waiting for the school bus in the 1200 block Warwick Drive.
Exposure of humans to rabies occurs when the saliva of an infected animal enters the body through an open wound or mucous membrane, such as with an animal bite. “An animal exposure is a serious medical event, for which prompt evaluation and complete treatment is critical,” said Dr. Heidi Kulburg, MD, health director for the Virginia Beach Health Department. “Rabies is highly preventable if the vaccine is given early and as recommended. Unfortunately, without preventive treatment, by the time someone develops symptoms of rabies, there is no cure and the disease is fatal in almost 100 percent of cases.” The disease is also fatal in infected domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.
The health director strongly emphasized the following recommendations for Virginia Beach residents to take in protecting their families and pets from rabies:
¨ If you have been exposed to the cat found on Warwick Drive, contact your primary care physician or go to your nearest emergency department for evaluation.
¨ If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact the Virginia Beach Animal Control at (757) 385-5000 or the Virginia Beach Health Department at (757) 518-2646.
¨ Seek medical treatment promptly for any animal bite to ensure appropriate and timely evaluation and treatment. All animal exposures must be taken seriously.
¨ Do not approach wild or stray animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, cats and dogs.
¨ Ensure all pet dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations. Please consult your veterinarian or the Virginia Beach Health Department if you have any questions about pet vaccinations.
¨ Confine your pets to your property.
¨ Securely seal garbage containers with lids.
¨ State law requires all dogs and cats over the age of four months to be vaccinated against rabies. For more information on rabies, contact the Virginia Beach Health Department at (757) 518-2646 or Animal Control at (757) 385-5000, or visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/DEE/Rabies/ or www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/default.htm.