Rabies is “the most deadly virus on the planet”
Two feral kitten have tested positive for rabies in Hublersburg, Walker Township, according to a notice given to area residents by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
According to the notice, a Straley Large Animal Veterinary Clinic employee found two kittens living behind the clinic around June 1. One of the kittens, orange and white, had a wound on its head. The second kitten, a brown tabby, appeared healthy. Both felines were put under rabies observation and showed symptoms of rabies — a virus that affects the central nervous system.
Both kittens died during the 10-15 day observation period.
The kittens were submitted to the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg, where they tested positive for rabies on Wednesday, according to the Department of Agriculture.
The Department of Agriculture noted that several people may have been exposed to the kittens or other cats or kittens in the colony. Anyone who has had contact with the cats or kittens in the past three to four weeks should contact Jennifer Johnson at the Department of Agriculture, 717-443-1181 and Lori Eckberg at the Centre County Health Department, 865-0932, the notice states.
Kathleen Rhoads, a veterinarian at the Straley clinic, said the staff is unsure of where the infection is coming from.
Rabies symptoms are grouped into two categories — furious and paralytic, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Furious symptoms may cause an animal to become aggressive and restless. The animal’s pupils may be dilated, have difficulty swallowing and show a loss in appetite.
Paralytic signs of rabies include a decrease in activity, poor coordination and limb weakness. Cats infected with the virus may meow excessively.
An infected animal may show different symptoms, and signs may vary as the virus progresses.
This year, Centre County has two documented cases of animals tested positive for rabies, reports the Department of Agriculture. Last year, the county had 13 positive rabies cases; however, no domestic animals contributed to that data.
Rhoads recommends pet owners visit their veterinarian on a regular basis in order to keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all animals. The CDC also suggests keeping animals inside and maintaining their location while outdoors.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also encourages pet owners to spay or neuter pets to help reduce the number of unwanted animals that may not receive regular veterinary care. If a community member notices a stray animal in their neighborhood, the CDC instructs them to call animal control.