A cat that was housed at an animal shelter in Dayville in May was rabid and health officials are urging anyone who was in contact with the cat to call the health department.
Lilac, a young, short-hair gray tiger cat, was at the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments Animal Services Program shelter at 125 Putnam Pike in Dayville and tested positive for rabies on May 30, according to the Northeast District Department of Health.
They are advising anyone who might have come in contact with this cat from May 14 to 29 and has not yet been contacted by NDDH or NECCOG, to call NDDH at (860) 774-7350 ext. 24 for an assessment of exposure.
Lilac was housed in the middle cage at the main shelter.
The Northeast District Department of Health and the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (or NECCOG) are contacting staff, volunteers and recorded visitors to NECCOG Animal Services, but they are issuing an advisory out of an abundance of caution to alert other visitors who might have been exposed to rabies.
NECCOG Animal Services Director Kristian Hernandez said that when the shelter first picked up the cat, she was taken to the vet with a leg injury. At that time the cat was friendly and the vet determined there was an infection in the cat's joint. Later, when someone was clearing the animal's cage, she jumped out and attacked a dog, bit an employee and scratched another.
After the incident, the cat had to be tested for rabies.
Hernandez said it's impossible to pre-emptively test for rabies because the animal must be euthanized to be tested.
After the cat tested positive, three employees and three volunteers were vaccinated and/or tested for rabies.
Hernandez said the public is not allowed to touch animals before their adoption period begins, and that animals are kept away from the general public for two to three weeks before being made available for adoption.
People can get rabies from being bitten by an infected animal, but an animal with rabies can also transmit the virus through its saliva, which can come in contact with a person’s mucous membranes or can get in open wounds on the skin.
Rabies can be fatal once clinical signs appear, but the Northeast District Department of Health said it can be prevented through timely medical treatment, including administration of one dose of immune globulin and four doses of vaccine over two weeks.