Residents of Liberty Borough are being urged to vaccinate their pets after a rabid cat was found in the area.
The Allegheny County Health Department said that a cat got in an altercation with a dog in the 3100 block of Valley Ridge Road this week. The cat, believed to be feral, was found to have rabies.
Anyone in that area who has had exposure to a feral cat should contact the health department, a spokeswoman said, and contact with stray animals should be avoided. Residents should have their pets vaccinated, and watch for unusual behavior.
“Well-intentioned efforts by individuals sometime can result in unnecessary exposure to pathogens like the rabies virus,” Dr. Karen Hacker, health department director, said in a statement.
So far in 2017, seven rabid animals have been reported in Allegheny County, includijng one cat, three bats and three raccoons.
“We strongly advise everyone to stay away from wild or stray animals, and particularly suggest that Liberty Borough residents, especially in the area where the rabid cat was (found), remain alert," Hacker said. "If animals appear to be acting strange or become threatening, call your local animal control service, the police or the Pennsylvania Game Commission.”
Any individual who is bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to saliva from a stray or any other animal, should immediately cleanse the contact area with soap and water, seek emergency medical treatment and call ACHD at (412) 687-ACHD (2243) to report the incident.
Rabies is a virus transmitted by an animal bite or scratch. It is almost always fatal when exposures are left untreated, according to the health department.
The rabies vaccine is highly effective when given promptly after an exposure, but is still a major expense and inconvenience that can be avoided, the health department spokeswoman said. The best prevention is to avoid stray animals, wild animals or those acting strangely as they can be potentially rabid, she said.
Originally published July 07, 2017.