Maine CDC Press Release

September 9, 2009

Rabid Cat Identified in Western Maine

AUGUSTA – Early in September, a stray kitten from in Oxford County was found to be rabid based on testing at the state’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory. The kitten was taken into the home of a family on August 28. On the same day, the animal bit three family members and their dog. The kitten was then euthanized and submitted to Augusta for testing.

The three individuals bitten by the cat will receive post-exposure treatment over the next 28 days. The dog was current on its rabies vaccination and will receive a rabies booster and be placed in a 45-day quarantine.

So far in 2009, a total of 42 rabid animals have been identified in Maine. This includes 22 raccoons, 10 skunks, 6 foxes, 3 bats and 1 cat.

"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 are concerned about rabies in domestic animals. A rabid domestic animal is more likely to have contact with people, increasing the chances that the virus will spread."

"It’s important to keep pets vaccinated for rabies. 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. Residents should report stray cats and dogs to the local animal control officer."

Livestock owners should also consult with their practicing veterinarians about vaccinating their animals for rabies. Currently there are approved rabies vaccines for horses, cattle and sheep, said 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. For more information on animal rabies in Maine visit http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/ddc/epi/zoonotic/rabies.shtml or call 1-800-821-5821.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH 207-287-3270 or John Martins, Director Employee and Public Communications (207) 287-5012