Maine CDC Press Release

November 8, 2007

Second Rabid Cat in Norridgewock

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH 207-287-3270
Or John Martins, Director
Employee and Public Communications (207) 287-5012

AUGUSTA – The continued incidence of rabies among domestic animals has prompted the State’s Health Officer to remind Mainers to be aware of animals acting aggressively or not exhibiting their normal behavior, and to vaccinate their pets. A rabid cat from Norridgewock was identified earlier this week, this is the second rabid cat from Norridgewock this year and the third rabid domestic animals in the state.

On November 5, an outdoor, unvaccinated cat was killed by Norridgewock Animal Control after it bit two residents and exposure another person to its saliva. The animal was submitted to the Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory and tested positive for rabies on November 6. To prevent human rabies infection, those bitten will receive a series of rabies shots. Several other domestic pets that had recent close contact with the rabid cat will be quarantined to assure they are not infected.

“Rabies is a fatal disease that is commonly found among wild animals in Maine.” said Dr. Dora Ann Mills, State Health Officer and Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC). “We have reason to be concerned about rabies among domestic animals. A rabid domestic animal is more likely to have contact with people, increasing the chances that the virus will spread.”

To date, three domestic cats have tested positive for rabies, two in the town of Norridgewock and one in Greene; during 2006, six domestic cats tested positive for rabies. An average of one domestic animal per year has tested positive in Maine since 2002. “Maine law requires that all dogs and cats be vaccinated because they are hunters by nature and may have contact with wild animals at high risk for rabies,” said Dr. Mills. Dogs and cats may be vaccinated for rabies after three months of age.

Livestock owners should also consult with their practicing veterinarians about vaccinating their animals for rabies. Currently there are rabies vaccines approved for horses, cattle and sheep, added Dr. Don Hoenig, State Veterinarian with the Maine Department of Agriculture.

Any bite, scratch or other exposure to an animal’s saliva may put a person at risk of rabies, if the animal is rabid. It’s recommended that the biting animal be captured and the incident should be reported to a local animal control officer and a health care provider. For more information on animal rabies in Maine, see the Maine CDC website: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/ddc/rabies_surveillance.htm or call 1-800-821-5821.