Commission reminds residents to take steps to prevent exposure
BOSTON -- The Boston Public Health Commission is reminding residents to steer clear of stray and wild animals, after at least a half dozen people were exposed to a rabid cat and are now receiving post-exposure prophylaxis, said Julia Gunn, director of the Communicable Disease Control Division.
Today, city public health officials distributed fliers in the area near Mascot Street in Dorchester, advising anyone who has had contact with an orange cat approximately 10 years old from October 2 until October 17 to immediately contact the Public Health Commission at 617-534-5611. Residents should contact the health commission if they or their pet have had physical contact, even if they were not bitten.
Rabies is an illness caused by a virus that is very serious and can be fatal. Although rabies in people is very rare, it can be common in wildlife. Rabies spreads to animals or people through the saliva of an infected animal. This usually occurs after a bite or scratch from an animal with the disease. Any mammal can get rabies, but it is more commonly found in raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, and cats.
To prevent rabies, it is important to avoid being bitten or scratched by a potentially infected animal. Never touch, feed, or take care of wild animals, stray dogs, or cats. Avoid any animal that is acting strange or sick. Do not keep wild animals as pets, touch, or pick up any dead animal. Do not attract wild animals to your house by feeding pets outside or leaving garbage cans open .Your pet should be up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations. Keep your pet under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals; and if your pet is bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat, seek veterinary assistance for your pet immediately. Finally, be sure to teach children how to stay safe from rabies and to avoid contact with any animal they do not know.
If you are bitten by an unknown stray animal or wild animal that potentially has rabies, wash the wound well with soap and water and contact your healthcare provider or go to your nearest emergency room to seek medical care. There are treatments available to prevent rabies illness after an exposure but they must be started within a specific timeframe.
For more information about rabies, please contact the Boston Public Health Commission, Infectious Disease Bureau at 617-534-5611.
- BPHC -