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Rabies alert issued for Swissvale area

| Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 1:28 p.m.

A Swissvale woman is receiving treatment for rabies because a cat that bit her tested positive for the disease, the Allegheny County Health Department reported on Thursday.

The health department is asking anyone who was bitten or scratched by a gray cat around the 7300 block of Denniston Avenue in Swissvale from Nov. 16-26 to call the agency at 412-687-ACHD.

“We're encouraging anyone else who may have been bitten or scratched by this cat to come forward so they can be evaluated and treated if necessary,” said Dr. Ron Voorhees, acting health director.

Likely a stray, the cat was hit by a car on Monday and went to a home nearby, where a woman tried to help it and was bitten, said health department spokesman Guillermo Cole.

“The cat went onto the porch, and she tried to be a Good Samaritan. She is being treated and is not expected to get rabies,” Cole said.

The animal is the first rabid cat reported in the county this year. It is the second case of human contact with a rabid animal in the county in 2012; a rabid bat bit a person in Verona in July. This year, officials said they confirmed 16 reports of rabid animals. Besides the cat, there were eight raccoons and seven bats.

Last year, 18 animals, including three cats, tested positive for rabies in the county.

Rabies exposure typically occurs through a break in the skin that comes in contact with an infected animal's saliva. The disease almost always is fatal if untreated.

People should avoid contact with all stray dogs and cats, health officials said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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