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A stray cat that scratched a person in Prattville was later confirmed to be rabies, the Alabama Department of Public Health said.
The cat was seen in the Durden Road area reacting aggressively towards a nearby resident’s cat, ADPH said. One viewer was scratched by the rabid cat after trying to separate the animals.
The stray cat was taken to the Prattville / Autauga County’s Humane Shelter and subsequently tested positive for rabies. The health department routinely tests animals for rabies, especially if they are strays or an unknown vaccination status. A positive result leads to an investigation to ensure that all potentially exposed people and animals are treated.
Rabies is transmitted through saliva. In general, exposure requires direct contact with infected saliva, usually through a bite or scratch, but there may be other less frequent contact exposures to mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Alabama state law requires dogs, cats, and ferrets 12 weeks of age and older to have the rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccinations are also available for horses and other farm animals if recommended by a veterinarian.
How to protect yourself from rabies
According to Dr. Dee W. Jones, State Veterinarian for Public Health, vaccinating your pets is the best way to ensure that the animal is protected from encounters with a rabid animal. A pet that is exposed to rabies and is currently vaccinated is unlikely to develop rabies and will be allowed to undergo a much less stringent quarantine after a booster vaccination.
Other suggestions are:
- Do not let pets roam free; keep them in a fenced area or on a leash.
- Don’t leave uneaten pet food or scraps near your home.
- Do not illegally feed or keep wild animals as pets.
- Avoid going near wildlife or pets that are acting strange or abnormally.
- Warn children not to go near stray or wild animals, regardless of their behavior.
- Instruct children to notify an adult if they are bitten or scratched by an animal.
What to do if you think you have been exposed
A person bitten or scratched by an animal should immediately wash wounds with mild soap and water, provide first aid and seek medical attention, or contact the county health department immediately.