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Rabid kitten raises concern in Laurel

A rabid kitten has caught the attention of the Prince George's County Health Department after Laurel residents were bit and scratched by the stray kitten near the 9000 block of Cherry Lane last week.

Health officials are asking anyone who has come in contact with the kitten between June 10 and 25 to call the health department at 301-583-3750 to prevent rabies exposure.

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On June 24, Laurel residents found the kitten, which was described as a brown, short-haired tabby cat with dark stripes and dots and bite wounds. The kitten was taken to a local veterinarian for treatment, with a Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene test confirming the kitten had rabies on June 27.

The individuals who were exposed to the kitten are receiving rabies post-exposure treatment, including a four-dose rabies vaccine over a two-week period as well as one dose of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.

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Laurel resident Mary Bishop, who died Saturday at Laurel Regional Hospital, was known for her love of cats, always caring for those left behind at the Laurel Gardens apartment complex. When developers demolished the apartments last fall for a new housing project, Bishop's efforts didn't stop as she moved to her new home in Laurel, bringing with her eight feral cats. After Bishop's death on Feb. 13, the nonprofit organization Laurel Cats stepped up to find new homes for the cats.

Prince George's health officials said a dozen cats have tested positive for rabies in the state this year. Health officials have provided the following tips to prevent rabies exposure:

Do not approach, handle or feed stray dogs and cats.

Teach children to stay away from wild animals or animals they do not know.

Have dogs, cats and ferrets vaccinated against rabies and keep the vaccinations up-to-date.

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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 that could attract stray animals.

If a pet has encountered a potentially rabid animal, officials said pet owners should wear gloves when handling their pet and take them to their local veterinarian or local health department for treatment.



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