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Union Bridge residents on alert after area cat found positive for rabies, health department says

A stray cat in the Union Bridge area that was acting strangely and attacked a child has tested positive for the rabies virus, the Carroll County Health Department announced Wednesday.

The gray and white short-haired feline lived near Hoff Road. Because it was a stray cat who sometimes visited a home in the area, the health department is concerned additional people may have been exposed to the rabies virus.

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“Rabies exposure occurs through bites and scratches or saliva from the infected animal getting into a person’s eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound,” Joe Mancuso, Rabies Program Manager at the Health Department, said in a news release.

Anyone who may have been exposed to bites, scratches, or saliva from a grey and white domestic short-haired cat in this area can call the Health Department at 410-876-1884 for more information and a risk assessment. If your pet may have interacted with this cat, you may also call for a risk assessment, the health department said.

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Rabies in feral cats is not uncommon in Maryland. Rabies is also common in raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. Mancuso said to call Animal Control at 410-848-4810 if anyone spots a sick or wounded animal, or one that is acting strangely.

To keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe from rabies, the health department has the following guidlines:

· Do not approach, handle, or feed wild or stray animals.

· Have your dogs, cats, and ferrets vaccinated against rabies and keep their vaccinations up-to-date. The health department hopes to resume offering their low-cost rabies vaccination clinics this fall.

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· Do not leave pets outside unattended or allow them to roam free.

· Cover garbage cans tightly and do not leave pet food outside.

· Teach children to stay away from wild animals and any animals that they do not know.

· Prevent bats from entering your home by using window screens and chimney caps. Bats found in the home should be safely collected, if possible, and tested for rabies.

· If you or your pet have been bitten or scratched by a wild or stray animal, wash the area with soap and water for several minutes. Keep your pet away from other people and pets. Then call your physician or veterinarian and contact the health department.

For more information, visit phpa.health.maryland.gov/Pages/rabies.aspx.

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