WASHINGTON COUNTY (KDKA) – The number of cats infected with the rabies virus is on the rise.

Some of the classic symptoms for a cat with rabies are aggression, lethargy, disorientation and paralysis. It will likely end in seizures and sudden death.

“It was a kitten, it came in at 4-weeks-old,” said Shelter Manager, Laurelle Dicks.

She is referring to a cat named Chance who was brought to the Washington Area Humane Society in May. Found along a road by a volunteer, at the time the kitten had a couple of puncture wounds on his head, but otherwise seemed healthy. Last Thursday Chance’s luck ran out.

“Very erratic behavior, typical in a rabies case I guess,” she said. “Banging his head, could barely walk, and just attacking anything it saw.”

The rabid cat was immediately isolated, the State Health and Agriculture Departments alerted, and 28 other cats quarantined. Three staffers who were scratched or bitten were treated with four Post Exposure Prophylaxis shots.

“It’s in the wound area, is where they put in – and then the next three shots are in their muscle,” said Dicks.

Health officials are asking that anyone else who might have had contact with the orange and white cat from Nov. 25 to Dec. 4 to get in touch.

It can take days, months, or even years for rabies symptoms to show up, but then – and only then – is it contagious.

Laurelle Dicks says, “The Department of Agriculture told me it could take up to 9 years, it’s usually within 6 months.”

The Washington Area Humane Society takes in and finds homes for hundreds of animals every year. But when it comes to rabies – how do they know what they’re getting?

“We don’t know – that’s the problem – we don’t know what people are bringing in.”

If you really love your animals – and want to avoid these kinds on problems – get your animals vaccinated.

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