A feral cat that had been bitten by a raccoon has tested positive for rabies, the fourth confirmed case of rabies this year in Atlantic County.
The cat was surrendered by the owner of a Mallard Court property in Pleasantville earlier this week according to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health.
The property owner stated that the cat had been bitten by a raccoon about a month ago and had since been displaying neurological symptoms. The cat was sent to the state lab for testing where it was confirmed positive on December 4.
An investigation by the Division of Public Health found that the property owner had been bitten by the cat while trying to capture it outdoors. As a result, the property owner has started post-exposure rabies treatment. Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Health officials said it is most common in raccoons and bats, but has also been found in foxes, skunks, cats, groundhogs and other wildlife in New Jersey.
Of the four cases of rabies reported in Atlantic County this year, this is the first involving a cat and the first case in Pleasantville; previous cases involved raccoons in Estell Manor and Egg Harbor Township and a bat in Northfield. Atlantic County reported 12 cases of rabies in 2011 that included nine raccoons, two bats and one groundhog. Health officials remind residents about the importance of vaccinating their pets to protect them from rabies.
The Atlantic County Animal Shelter offers a free rabies vaccination clinic to residents each month at 240 Old Turnpike Road, Pleasantville. The next clinic will be held on Sunday, December 9 from 10 AM to 12 noon. Dogs must be brought on leashes and cats in carriers.
For more information, call (609) 485-2345 or visit www.aclink.org/animalshelter. If you have been bitten or exposed to an animal through a scratch or had any contact with the animal's saliva, you should seek immediate medical attention and report the bite to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health by calling 609-645-5971.
For more information about rabies control and precautions to protect your family and your pets, please visit the county Web site at www.aclink.org/publichealth or call 609-645-5971.