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ROSE HILL, VA – The Fairfax County Health Department is warning residents of the potential for rabies exposure from an aggressive cat in the Rose Hill area.
A cat sighted on the 6000 block of Leewood Drive, Alexandria, was found to be rabies, according to the health department. The small brown tabby cat was described as aggressive during the attacks, which were reportedly unprovoked.
Two attacks occurred on the 6,000 block of Leewood Drive and the third on the 5,000 block of Greenhaven Place in Alexandria. The first incident occurred on October 29, the others on October 30.
The health department assumes that the cat has had contact with other people or pets. Anyone who thinks they have been bitten and scratched by the cat is urged to contact the Department of Health’s rabies program at 703-246-6004. The cat is a young female and will be neutered. Since the cat is neutered, the cat may have an owner.
Rabies spreads when saliva or central nervous tissue of an infected animal enters an open wound, mouth, nose, or eyes. The infection is caused by a virus and can be transmitted to mammals such as foxes, raccoons, skunks, and bats, and pets such as cats and dogs. People can become infected if they are bitten or scratched by an infected animal.
That year, 19 animals were diagnosed with rabies in Fairfax County. Animals infected with rabies can behave aggressively, while wild animals can be docile. Signs may include drooling, swaying, or stumbling while moving, or paralysis. Rabid animals or bites should be reported to the Fairfax County Animal Welfare Police at 703-691-2131.
In the event of bite wounds or scratches, the health department requires the wound to be washed immediately with soap and water before a doctor is consulted. The rabies vaccine is effective in treating rabies when provided in a timely manner; otherwise it is fatal to mammals.
Pet owners are advised to have their dogs, cats, ferrets and horses vaccinated against rabies. If a pet is attacked, wash the pet’s wound with gloves, contact animal welfare services, and see a veterinarian.
For more information on responding to rabies, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/rabies.