The Animal Rescue League of Berks County (ARL) notified today that a cat captured in the Timber Drive area of Alburtus, PA (Longswamp Township) tested positive for rabies.
“The ARL was contacted by a resident of Longswamp Township who stated that they had trapped a cat that was showing several behavioral symptoms consistent with the rabies virus,” said Sergeant Hayden Carroll from the ARL’s Department of Animal Protection. “At this time, we know that the cat scratched the finder, who has already sought the proper medical treatment. If anyone else was bitten or scratched by an animal in this area, they should seek medical attention immediately.”
According to the CDC, rabies is a neurological virus that infects the central nervous system of mammals, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death in 99.9% of human cases if left untreated. Although 90% of reported cases of rabies in animals occur in wildlife–mainly skunks, raccoons, bats, coyotes, and foxes–the virus can be transmitted to dogs, cats, and cattle who have not received vaccination.
Common symptoms of rabies in animals include general sickness, problems swallowing, excessive drool or saliva, an animal who bites at everything, an animal who appears tamer than you would expect, an animal who is having trouble moving or may be paralyzed, or a bat that is on the ground. (Source: CDC)
The most important action to prevent rabies in dogs and cats is to make sure that their rabies vaccine is up-to-date and keep them away from unknown animals, especially wildlife. If an owner suspects their pet was bitten or scratched by a rabid animal, they should call animal control or their local police department to capture the animal and seek immediate veterinary care.
For humans who have been exposed to rabies, the incubation period could last for weeks to months and may vary based on how far the exposure location is from the brain. Common symptoms of rabies in humans include discomfort or a prickling or itching sensation at the site of the bite, progressing within days to acute symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, and agitation. As the disease progresses, the person may experience delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water), and insomnia.
“Residents should be alert for other animals in the area with signs of rabies and should not allow their pets outside unsupervised,” said Sergeant Carroll. “If you suspect that an animal is infected with rabies, please call immediately the animal control provider of your municipality or your local police department and do not approach the animal by any means.”
The ARL is not the contracted animal control provider for Longswamp Township.