A feral cat found in Ellicott City has tested positive for rabies, the Howard County Health Department announced Friday afternoon.
The cat was found Wednesday in the 8700 block of Baltimore National Pike in Ellicott City.
“One cat was identified as a gray tabby,” Matt Wilson, a county health department spokesman, said in an email. “But there appears to be a colony of cats in this area, so any stray cat could be a potential concern.”
Howard County Animal Control has been onsite, catching some of the cats, Wilson added.
The county health department is looking for anyone who may have come in contact with a feral cat since Jan. 15. Also any pet owners who believe their pet has made contact with a feral cat should alert the county health department.
Rabies is spread through a bite or a scratch from an infected animal, including a cat, raccoon, bat, fox and groundhog. It can also be spread when an infected animal’s saliva comes in contact with another person’s or animal’s eyes, nose, mouth or open cut.
Preventive treatment for rabies, which can be fatal, must be started as soon as possible. Preventive treatment may be required for anyone who fed, handled or was attacked by the confirmed rabid cat, the county health department said.
The Howard health department advises residents to not feed any wild or stray animals, including leaving food dishes outside.
All pet owners should keep their animals’ rabies vaccinations up to date.