Cat with rabies bit women near Harrisburg


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Two women are receiving treatment after they were bitten by a rabid cat this week in Susquehanna Township, and state health officials are warning others who may have been exposed.

One of the women bitten Monday in the 1000 block of Whitehall Drive told ABC27 News that the calico and her two kittens are outdoor cats. She said the cat was crying and when she went to pet her, the cat screeched and bit her.

When her friend tried to help, she was bitten, too.

“We’re really urging folks in the area to be aware of other animals, their pets and themselves, for any potential rabies exposure because if you are exposed to rabies and you do not get it treated immediately, it is fatal,” said Brittany Lauffer, a public information officer for the state Department of Health.

The Health Department distributed flyers in the neighborhood to let others know what happened.

“If you think that there’s a wild animal in your neighborhood that is suspicious, that you might think have rabies, contact animal control and they can take care of that for you,” Lauffer said. “If you believe that it’s a pet, contact your veterinarian.”

From January to November of this year, four skunks, three raccoons and two cats in Dauphin County have tested positive for rabies.

“They get it through the transmission of bite wounds, so through saliva. That’s the main factor that they get it through,” said Dr. Samantha Slenbaker, a veterinarian at Shores Veterinary Emergency Center. “Another way is sometimes just an open wound, so the saliva gets into the open wound.”

Since feral cats are exposed to wild animals, Slenbaker says if you want to feed them, place the food out but don’t touch them.

“Cats start flicking their tails, that means you should back off,” she said. “They put their ears back. They start hissing.” 

Anyone bitten by the cat or exposed to its saliva should call the Dauphin County State Health Center on Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 717-346- 1470 or, after hours, 1-877-PA-HEALTH.

Anyone with a pet that was exposed should contact their veterinarian.

Online: Rabies fact sheet

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