LUMBERTON — A rabid cat has been captured in Lumberton, the fourth animal found in Robeson County with the deadly disease, but the first one that was domesticated, according to the Robeson County Health Department.
The black, male cat was located near the intersection of 18th and Walnut streets on Wednesday, Health Director Bill Smith said in a statement. On Thursday, the Robeson County Health Department was notified that the cat had tested positive for rabies, Smith said.
The virus is only transmitted through saliva or brain tissue from an infected animal, according to the Center for Disease Control. If a person suspects he has been exposed to the virus, the first step is to immediately wash any wound with soap and water to decrease the chance of infection, according to the CDC.
Any person who has come in contact with a rabid animal should contact their health care provider or local health department for a rabies risk assessment, Smith said. The Robeson County Health Department can be reached at 910-671-3200.
A medical professional will decide if a person needs a rabies vaccination. Decisions to start vaccination, known as post-exposure prophylaxis, will be based on the type of exposure and the animal the person was exposed to, as well as laboratory and surveillance information for the geographic area where the exposure occurred, according to the CDC.
In animals, rabies is diagnosed via a laboratory test, which looks for the presence of rabies virus antigens in brain tissue. In humans, several tests are required.
In North Carolina, law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated before 4 months old and then at one- or three-year intervals, depending on the vaccine, for life. Wild animals locally that are most likely to become infected include raccoons, foxes, skunks, bats and wolves.
Anyone that sees an animal demonstrating unusual behavior is urged to contact Robeson County Animal Control at 910-865-2200.
Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @MikeGellatly