A Local Household Pet Cat Develops Rabies

The cat died suddenly after biting two members of its household, and the two people exposed are now being treated.

Dr. Peter Sylvester, director of the Bay County Health Department, has some advice.

"We are experiencing higher than expected numbers of positive rabid animals this year and we are continually urging the public to use caution when encountering wild animals."

Dr. Sylvester went on to say, " This event stresses the necessity to reinforce the need to be sure all pets are vaccinated. Please check with you Vet to make sure your pets’ vaccinations are current."

Rabies has been detected in several raccoons earlier this year in the Callaway area. But, the latest incident involving a household cat is the first rabies case in more than ten years in a domesticated animal locally.

Dr. Sylvester did not indicate in what section of Bay County the rabid cat case developed. He did not release the names of the two victims who had been bitten.

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What is Rabies?

  • Rabies virus causes an acute encephalitis in all warm-blooded animals.

  • All mammals are susceptible to the rabies virus.

  • The animals most known for carrying the virus include: raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes.

Transmission of Rabies

  • Transmission of rabies virus usually begins when the infected saliva of a host is passed to an uninfected animal.

  • Various routes of transmission include the eyes, nose, mouth, aerosol transmission, and corneal transplantations.

Symptoms of Rabies

  • First symptoms of rabies in humans may include flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, or malaise.

  • Other symptoms may include cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, and insomnia.

  • The acute period of the disease typically ends after 2 to 10 days.

  • Once clinical signs of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal.

  • There is only six documented cases of human survival from clinical rabies.

  • Disease prevention can be done following a bite from an infected animal, being injected with a vaccine (postexposure prophylaxis).
    • Every year an estimated 18,000 people receive preexposure prophylaxis.
    • Every year an estimated 40,000 people receive postexposure prophylaxis.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention contributed to this report