Stray Cat in Charlotte Tests Positive for Rabies

News Release


For Immediate Release: May 15, 2018

Media Contacts:
Ben Truman
Vermont Department of Health

Stray Cat in Charlotte Tests Positive for Rabies
Vermonters Urged to Know Their Risk and Take Appropriate Precautions

BURLINGTON – Residents of Charlotte are being urged to take precautions after a local stray cat tested positive for rabies. After appearing healthy on Monday, May 6, a stray cat was seen again on May 8 with symptoms associated with rabies – the inability to use its hind legs, loud meowing or crying, and heavy drooling. The cat was brought to a veterinarian on May 9 and later submitted to the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory, where it tested positive for rabies.

The cat – an 11-pound intact male grey tabby, may have been roaming around residential areas in Charlotte. Before it was taken to a veterinarian, the cat is believed to have been infectious – or capable of transmitting rabies to humans or other animals – starting April 28. Because of this, the Health Department urges Charlotte residents and all Vermonters to know what to do if they think they or their pets may have been exposed to rabies.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Contact your health care provider immediately and follow their instructions.

If your pet or farm animal was exposed to a potentially rabid wild or stray animal, contact your veterinarian immediately. Make sure all family pets, including barn cats, are up to date with rabies shots.

If you see a wild or stray animal acting strangely, report it to your town’s animal control officer, or to the Rabies Hotline (1-800-4-RABIES). Do not touch or pick up wild or stray animals – even baby animals – or try to make them into pets. Doing so can put yourself or your family at risk. You can’t tell if an animal has rabies just by looking at it.

The rabies virus is spread through the bite of an infected animal, most commonly raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks. Rabies is transmitted only when the virus is introduced into a bite wound, open cuts on the skin, or onto mucous membranes like the mouth or eyes. People are at a very low risk of getting rabies from petting or handling animals, or from coming into contact with the animal’s urine, blood or feces. When caring for pets, always feed them inside the house and keep them indoors at night. If they are outdoors during the day, keep them on a leash or in an enclosed space. Pets that roam free are more likely to get rabies.

Learn more about rabies in Vermont:

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