Residents of Charlotte are being urged to take precautions after a stray cat tested positive for rabies, the Vermont Health Department announced Tuesday.
After appearing healthy on May 6, a stray cat was seen again on May 8 with symptoms associated with rabies – 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, officials said.
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.
The Health Department urges Charlotte residents and all Vermonters to follow these tips:
• 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 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). \The rabies virus is spread through the bite of an infected animal, most commonly raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks, health officials explained.
Rabies is transmitted when the virus is introduced into a bite wound, open cuts on the skin, or onto mucous membranes like the mouth or eyes.
• Learn more about rabies in Vermont at healthvermont.gov.