exposed to rabid kitten getting treatment
By _Tammie Smith_ (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published: July 11, 2009
Nine Hanover County residents are among 17 people in four states getting
rabies shots after being exposed to a rabid kitten.
A Hanover woman picked up the stray on the way to a vacation with friends
and family in Delaware in late June. The 6to 8-week-old kitten was alongside
the road on U.S. 13 on the Eastern Shore near the Delaware line.
On the way back home, the woman noticed the kitten showing signs of
illness, said Marcus Allen, a public health supervisor for the Chickahominy Health
"We got a call from Hanover County animal control that they were on the way
to pick up an animal showing neurological symptoms and having seizures,"
The kitten was sent to the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory
Services where tests confirmed it had rabies.
Health officials at the state central office notified public health
officials in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, where the others who had contact
with the kitten live, Allen said.
"Although we understand people want to help animals, there is no definite
way to tell an animal has rabies just by observing it and its behavior,"
said Dr. Brooke Rossheim, Chickahominy Health District acting director. "While
the intentions were good, there can be significant consequences."
Rabid animals are not uncommon in Virginia. Through July 4, there have been
274 laboratory-confirmed cases in the state. Of that number, there were
143 raccoons, 58 skunks, 31 foxes, 20 cats, 10 bats, eight cows, and one each
bobcat, dog, groundhog and horse.
Treatment for humans after exposure includes one dose of human rabies
immune globulin and five rabies-vaccine shots over 28 days. The cost can run
$1,500 to $2,000, and insurance generally covers it, Allen said.
State records show the last human rabies infection in Virginia was in 2003.
Contact Tammie Smith at (804) 649-6572 or _TLsmith(a)timesdispatch.com_