Officials: Rabid cat found in South Huntingdon business
A rabid cat wandered into a business in South Huntingdon last week, exposing at least one person to the disease, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said.
On July 5, the cat entered the business on Country Lane, acting normal. A feral cat colony is near the company, which was not identified by department officials.
Shortly after it entered the building, it attacked a worker, according to a news release. Will Nichols, department spokesman, said exposure to the cat means the employee could have been bitten or scratched, or it could have hissed in the person’s face.
The worker is receiving post-exposure treatment.
According to officials, the cat was quarantined in a crate and died later that day. It was then taken to the Allegheny Department of Health laboratory where it tested positive for rabies, which is a virus impacting the central nervous system.
Westmoreland and Allegheny counties had some of the highest cases of rabies between January and May, according to documents on the Department of Agriculture website. Ten cases were reported in Westmoreland County — two from skunks, two from foxes and six from raccoons. Thirteen cases were reported in Allegheny County, with 10 instances from raccoons, two from bats and one from a cat.
Chester County, near Philadelphia, had the highest number of cases with 14 reported instances.
“Part of the reason we see more rabies in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Chester … (is) those counties are counties with higher populations, higher human populations, and we just have more people running into more animals, more rabid animals,” Nichols said.
Across the state, 18 instances were recorded of rabid cats. Racoons had the highest number of rabies instances, appearing 92 times. Total reported cases across the state this year total 150.
Rabies can appear in two forms — furious and paralytic. An animal exhibiting furious signs could be aggressive, have a loss of fear, excessive vocalization, loss of appetite and could be attracted to noise and human activity.
Paralytic signs include decreased activity, poor coordination, acting “dull” and hind limb weakness.
If the disease is not treated, it could result in the animal drooling, being unable to swallow, becoming paralyzed or lead to death. Domestic animals previously vaccinated against rabies who are exposed will be quarantined for a minimum of 120 days or observed by the owner for 45 days.
People can become infected with rabies through a direct bite or scratch and saliva or neural tissue contacting an open wound or break in the skin. All rabies instances must be reported, according to the Department of Agriculture. Immediately washing a bite or scratch with soap and water can reduce the risk of rabies.
“We try not to let people get too worried about rabies, but just realize it is here,” Nichols said.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .