ARL Berks confirms case of rabies in cat in St. Lawrence Borough | Berks Regional News

BIRDSBORO, Pa. | Animal rescue officials said an animal in Berks County tested positive for rabies Friday.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County said Friday a cat impounded in St. Lawrence Borough by ARL’s Department of Animal Protection tested positive for rabies. They also ARL received another call alerting about a cat showing potential symptoms of rabies near Jacksonwald Avenue in St. Lawrence.

Officers are in the area to contain the cat, ARL said.

The first cat with the confirmed case, a black medium-sized short hair female, was captured near Parkview Rod after a resident called reporting that he was attacked by the cat.

“We immediately responded to the resident’s call and secured the cat,” said Corporal Savannah Baller from the ARL’s Department of Animal Protection. “At the moment, we know that this cat scratched a resident’s leg, who was already notified and received proper treatment. If anyone else was bitten or scratched by an animal in this area, they should seek medical attention immediately.”

According to the CDC, rabies is a neurological virus that infects the central nervous system of mammals, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death in 99.9% of human cases if left untreated. Although 90% of reported cases of rabies in animals occur in wildlife–mainly skunks, raccoons, bats, coyotes, and foxes–the virus can be transmitted to dogs, cats, and cattle who have not received vaccination.

“Residents reported that the first cat was part of a significantly-sized cat colony in the area, so we activated our protocols and started trapping the cats to get them examined, neutered and vaccinated immediately to slow and stop the virus from spreading,” said Alexis Pagoulatos, ARL’s CEO. “St. Lawrence has been proactive by securing a full-service Animal Control contract with us, and all our departments are mobilized and working tirelessly on getting this serious situation under control. Residents will see ARL staff and representatives in the area spreading the news and humanely trapping cats for examination and TNR likely for several weeks as we strategically target this problem.”

Common symptoms of rabies in animals include general sickness, problems swallowing, excessive drool or saliva, an animal who bites at everything, an animal who appears tamer than you would expect, an animal who is having trouble moving or may be paralyzed, or a bat that is on the ground, according to the CDC.

For humans who have been exposed to rabies, the incubation period could last for weeks to months and may vary based on how far the exposure location is from the brain. Common symptoms of rabies in humans include discomfort or a prickling or itching sensation at the site of the bite, progressing within days to acute symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, and agitation. As the disease progresses, the person may experience delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water), and insomnia, according to the CDC.

ARL said residents should be vigilant for other animals in the area that may exhibit symptoms of rabies. They also warned not to leave pets outside unsupervised.

“If you suspect that an animal is infected with rabies, please immediately call the animal control provider of your municipality or your local police department and do not approach the animal by any means,” Baller said.

The ARL will be having a free pet vaccination clinic for the residents of St. Lawrence on April 12th and 21st from 4 PM – 7 PM at St. Lawrence’s Borough Hall. During the event, pets will receive rabies and other protective vaccinations and microchips. This free event is possible thanks to a grant by Petco Love and Tina Saracino’s State Farm Agency.

“Currently, TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) programs are the most effective way of protecting community cat populations and thus protecting the people within our community from rabies exposure,” said Dr. Jason Banning, Veterinary Lead at the ARL. “TNR stabilizes colony populations reducing the chance of a colony member coming into contact with a rabid animal, and in addition, every cat through the ARL’s TNR program also receives a rabies vaccine which further reduces the risk of contracting rabies when exposed.”

Banning said owners should keep their pet’s rabies vaccine up-to-date and keep them away from unknown animals, especially wildlife.

If an owner suspects their pet was bitten or scratched by a rabid animal, Banning advised they call animal control or their local police department to capture the animal and seek immediate veterinary care.

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