MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — Three employees at a veterinary clinic contracted rabies from a stray cat that was rescued last week.
According to the Monongalia County Health Department (MCHD), the kitten was found in downtown Morgantown, by an employee who then took it back to the clinic.
MCHD said the kitten was taken to a state testing facility, where it was diagnosed with rabies. The employees will be fine and are undergoing post-exposure rabies prophylaxis treatment, according to a MCHD press release.
“If you contract rabies and you are not treated you will die,” MaryWade Triplett said.”There have been very very few instances of people who have survived rabies. Rabies is a deadly disease, once you start showing symptoms it’s too late to be treated.”
Triplett is the public information officer for MCHD and said people should avoid interacting with stray animals. Triplett said she understands that is not easy for some, like those who rescue strays, but she encourages everyone to take precautions if they are going to interact with stray animals.
She also said people should not interact with wildlife and note if an animal is acting strangely before approaching it. An example of strange behavior that may indicate rabies, she said, would be raccoons that are out during the day that look confused and or agitated.
“If you’re bitten or scratched, even if you’re not sure, wash the area with soap and warm water immediately and go to the emergency department'” Triplett said. “Go to the emergency department because they’re the ones that will have the rabies vaccine and the immunoglobulin that is used.”
Furthermore, Triplett encouraged all pet owners to vaccinate their pets against rabies, as is required by the law.