Another rabies case was recently reported in Wyoming County; this time in Laceyville.
According to information provided by Nate Wardle, spokesman for the Department of Health, a long-haired gray kitten found on Church Street in Laceyville tested positive for rabies on Sept. 2.
Dory Browning, director of the True Friends Animal Welfare Shelter of Montrose, confirmed that the kitten was initially brought in by an individual from Laceyville on Thursday. While there, the kitten scratched and bit an employee and a volunteer at the shelter.
“One of our volunteers was taking the cat out of a box and it latched onto a hand,” Browning explained. “When a staff member tried to help, they got scratched. It was a learning experiencing not to take someone’s word when they say the animal is friendly.”
At the shelter’s instruction, those who brought the kitten in took it to the Montrose Veterinary Clinic. There it was tested and determined to have rabies.
“Our policy is we’re a no-kill shelter,” Browning explained. “But we’re not equipped to handle feral cats - we don’t have the resources.”
This is the first case of rabies at True Friends since the shelter opened in 2011.
“It was a real eye opener,” Browning said. “I’ve made arrangements to get special gloves for the handling of wild animals.”
The two people at the shelter who had contact with the kitten were first treated for rabies at Wilson Hospital in Johnson City, and then had follow up at Tyler Memorial Hospital in Tunkhannock.
“When I got the call, it was very scary,” Browning explained. “We’re like one big family here, and we care about each other.”
Wardle said that at least five people were scratched or bitten, and are now undergoing treatment for rabies.
Rabies attacks the body’s central nervous system as well as the brain and is always fatal if left untreated.
Anyone who suspects they have been exposed to rabies from the kitten or any other animal should immediately contact their doctor or the Susquehanna County State Health Center at 570-278-3889, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours, people can call toll free at 1-877-PA-HEALTH.
Anyone with a dog, cat, or other type of pet that has been injured by the kitten should contact their veterinarian for advice on how they can be protected, as well as themselves and their families.
People are also advised to avoid all contact with wild or stray animals - particularly bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks - and keep their pets away from them as well. A wild animal that acts ‘friendly’ or behaves strangely in other ways is particularly suspect. One indicator is if a nocturnal animal, such as a raccoon, is spotted moving about during the day.
In August, a kitten from a feral cat colony living along Englewood Drive in Westgate subdivision tested positive for rabies.
Animals suspected of having rabies should be reported to local law enforcement agencies.
All pets should be properly vaccinated against rabies.
On Oct. 14, the Wyoming County Humane Society will hold a rabies clinic at the Agricultural Building located along Route 92 in Tunkhannock, from 9 a.m. to noon. People can obtain low-cost rabies inoculations for their pets, but they must bring the necessary paperwork if an animal has received a previous inoculation.