Kitten in Townsend tests positive for rabies

TOWNSEND – Delaware’s Division of Public Health is warning residents in Townsend developments on North Odessa Boulevard who may have come in contact with a feral kitten that was discovered to be rabid on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017.

The gray kitten bit a member of a family that found it and took it into their home. The kitten has been euthanized.

Anyone who thinks they might have been bitten, scratched or have come in contact with this kitten’s saliva or that of another feral animal in the area should immediately contact their health care provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at 302-744-4995. An epidemiologist is available 24/7.

Residents should take precautions against rabies by:

  • Avoiding wild and feral animals;
  • Ensuring their pets are up-to-date with rabies shots; and
  • Keeping pets indoors or, while outside, supervising them on a leash.

Since January 2017, DPH has confirmed rabies in six animals including three raccoons, two cats and one dog.

Rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms appear. If the animal is of unknown origin, or unavailable to be quarantined or tested, the Division of Public Health recommends that people receive postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment, a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.

Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Infection can occur through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or if saliva from such an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or an opening in the skin

Fortunately, rabies is also almost 100 percent preventable. DPH recommends that members of the public take the necessary steps to stay clear of exposure to rabies.

Rabies prevention starts with the animal owner. Vaccination of pets and livestock is a crucial factor in rabies prevention.

  • All dogs, cats and ferrets 6 months of age and older, are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies. Consider vaccinating valuable livestock and horses. Animals that have frequent contact with humans should also be vaccinated.
  • Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.
  • Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and thus reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
  • Do not feed or water your pets outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
  • Keep your garbage securely covered.
  • Do not handle unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.

For more information on the Delaware Division of Public Health’s rabies program visit: http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/rabies.html or call 1-866-972-9705 or 302-744-4995. For more information on rabies visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.

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