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Allegheny County Health Department has issued a warning to residents of the Wilmerding area after a cat suffering from rabies was found in the 400 block of Orient Avenue.
“We strongly urge all residents to avoid any kind of contact with a wild or stray animal, particularly those in Wilmerding, where the rabid cat was found,” Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the health department, said in a statement. “If any animal appears to be acting strange or becomes threatening, residents should notify their local animal control service, the police or the Pennsylvania Game Commission immediately.”
A woman who was scratched by the cat has been referred for treatment, Hacker said. The cat also was exposed to other animals, including pets, in the Wilmerding area.
Although rabid animals are often depicted in TV and movies as "foaming" at the mouth when infected, a health department spokesman said that was not the case with the cat that was found in Wilmerding. Instead, it was lethargic, sickly, weak and hissing when approached.
Any residents exposed to a feral, or wild, cat, or who thinks their pet may have been exposed, should contact the health department immediately, a spokesman said.
Rabies is a virus transmitted by an animal bite or scratch, and exposures due to a bite or scratch are almost always fatal when left untreated.
All county residents should always avoid stray animals and wildlife, even if they appear healthy, to avoid exposure to rabies. Residents should also have their pets vaccinated, and watch for unusual behavior.
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 the Health Department at (412) 687-2243 to report the incident.
So far in 2017, a total of 16 rabid animals have been reported in Allegheny County, including seven raccoons, five bats, three cats and one skunk, the health department said.
Originally published December 28, 2017.