After a rabid cat attacked a 60-year-old grandmother, her six-year-old grandchild and a Pennsylvania State Police Trooper in the family's Lenhartsville residence May 31, officials with the Humane Society of Berks County are looking for anyone else who may have come in contact with the animal.
"Anyone who may have come into contact with this cat should immediately notify the State Health Department and Humane Society," said Humane Society Executive Director, Karel I. Minor. "Rabies is a deadly disease and requires immediate treatment."
Officials say the brown tabby with a white underside bit the trooper when attempting to capture it. The trooper shot the animal in the jaw and throat, but it escaped and was later discovered by the female victim's husband. Family members said they had seen the stray cat during the past few months and that in the past it was behaving normally.
Humane Society officers responded to the police call and collected the body of the cat. It was transported to the Pa. Department of Health Lab in Lionville for testing, where it tested positive for the rabies virus.
Rabies is contagious and is almost always fatal.
"Rabies is a horrible disease and no one should take any chances," said Minor. "If you were exposed, please contact the appropriate authorities immediately.
To contact the Health Department, call 1-877-PA-HEALTH. The Humane Society can be reached at 610-921-2348.
Early signs of rabies in animals include an altered disposition, fever, loss of appetite, and often, altered phonation, for example, the change of tone in a dog's bark. A few days after infection, restlessness and agitation may develop, along with trembling. An affected dog may growl or bark constantly, and will viciously attack any moving object, person or animal it encounters. This state can last up to seven days, and is followed by convulsions and paralysis.
Treatment for individuals exposed to rabies includes a series of five injections of one of three possible rabies vaccines in the upper arm over a four week period.