3rd cat this summer tests positive for rabies in Westmoreland County
Two more cats in Westmoreland County have tested positive for rabies in separate incidents this month in Irwin and the Mt. Pleasant area, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
The recent confirmations make three cases of rabid cats reported in the county this year.
In the Mt. Pleasant area case, an approximately 4-month-old cat suddenly became aggressive and scratched two people who were feeding strays near their home, the agency said. The cat was submitted to the state health department’s laboratory, where it tested positive for rabies.
The agriculture department reported that the two people exposed are receiving treatment.
Nate Wardle, state health department press secretary, reported another incident involving a rabid cat also occurred Sept. 5 in Irwin. He said two people were exposed and received treatment.
More specific information was not available.
The agriculture department reported that three other feral cats in the Mt. Pleasant area have potential for exposure.
On July 5, the department reported a cat wandered into a business in South Huntingdon and exposed at least one person to the disease.
Shortly after it entered the building, the cat attacked a worker, according to a news release. The worker also received treatment.
Westmoreland and Allegheny counties have some of the highest cases of rabies in the state between January and July, according to documents on the department of agriculture’s website. Westmoreland County has reported 14 cases — two from skunks, two from foxes, three from cats, six from raccoons and one from a bat. Allegheny County has reported 16 case: 13 instances from raccoons, two from bats and one from a cat.
Chester County, near Philadelphia, had the highest number of cases with 16 reported instances.
Total reported cases across the state this year total 233.
If the disease is not treated, the animal may drool, become unable to swallow or paralyzed, and may die. Domestic animals vaccinated against rabies but which 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, the department said.
No human in Pennsylvania has been infected with rabies since 1984.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .