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Cat with rabies found after biting human

A cat confirmed to have the deadly rabies virus has been found in Fresno, according to the Fresno County Public Health Department.

The cat tested positive for Rabies after it bit a person on Oct. 9, according to the brief statement released to media.

Madera County Animal Services Director Kirsten Gross said the incident was alarming and serious — as a bite from any rabid animal is potentially fatal for a person if that person is not medically treated in time. A bite from a rabid animal could also easily happen in domestic animals here in Madera County, she said.

“Thankfully we have not had any cases of rabies in domestic animals, dogs or cats, in many years.” Gross said. “But we know it’s here in the area because in 2018 there was one rabid bat found in a city backyard on Mainberry Drive, a rabid fox in North Fork, two rabid bats in Oakhurst and in 2019 there has been a rabid skunk that tested positive up in the mountains.” she said.

Gross said small brown bats are the most common carrier of the rabies virus in California, but they are generally beneficial animals because they eat insects and statistics show most bats do not typically become sick with the viral disease.

“However when bats do become sick they fall to the ground and can become prey or play for wild animals or our domestic animals such as dogs or cats. Humans can then in turn become exposed to the virus through a bite or scratch. Outdoor cats have also been known to catch bats and then bring them inside their homes. Or bats can find their way inside through cracks and crevices, so even pets that do not go outside can be exposed to rabies and need to be protected through vaccinations,“ Gross said.

Gross suggested everyone make sure to keep their dogs’, cats’, and even horses’ vaccinations up to date against the potentially deadly rabies virus. California state law requires all dogs over four months of age be vaccinated against Rabies.

“And if you see a bat please don’t approach or handle it, or any wild or domestic animal you see acting aggressively, or acting strangely on the ground. Call wildlife services or animal control.” she said.

The Friends of Madera Animal Shelter (FMAS) hosts a monthly low-cost shot clinic for dogs and cats the first Saturday of each month at the Madera District Fairgrounds. The next shot clinic is Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to noon. Rabies vaccinations are $10 and parvo-distemper combination vaccines are $15. Deworming is $5. All cats must be in carriers and dogs on leashes. All proceeds benefit homeless Madera animals and the low-cost spay and neuter programs administered by FMAS volunteers.

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