PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Department of Health (HEALTH) are advising people who live in the East Bay Village area of West Main Road, Middletown that a feral cat in the area tested positive for rabies. The cat is described as a medium-sized, black, short haired, female with kittens; and lived in a feral colony. The cat was killed by a dog and subsequently tested for rabies at the State Health Laboratory, where it was confirmed to be infected with rabies. The dog and a child that was scratched by the cat are undergoing preventive treatment. The dog was properly vaccinated against rabies prior to the exposure.
Anyone who may have had any physical contact with this cat or any feral cats in the East Bay Village area of West Main Road should call HEALTH immediately (401-222-2577, Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; 401-272-5952 after hours). Anyone who has a pet that may have had contact with this cat or any feral cat in this area should contact Middletown Animal Control at 401-846-1144 extension 7101 during normal business hours or the Middletown Police Department at 401-846-1104 after hours.
DEM and HEALTH remind all Rhode Islanders that rabies is a serious public health issue. Once symptoms appear, rabies is fatal in people and in animals. Rabies vaccine is available for people who may have been exposed to rabies, but it must be started as soon as possible after exposure. All dogs, cats and ferrets are required by state law to have current vaccination against rabies. Vaccination of pets prevents them from contracting rabies and prevents people from becoming exposed to rabies through their pets.
HEALTH and DEM make the following recommendations:
• Make sure all dogs, cats, and ferrets are up to date on rabies vaccination. (required by RI law) • Avoid all contact with and do not feed stray, wild or free-roaming domestic animals. • Do not feed stray domestic animals and do not feed your animals outdoors, as this will attract other animals. This is especially dangerous when feeding large numbers of free-roaming cats. • Protect your pets by always maintaining control; walk dogs on a leash or let them play in a fenced yard, and do not let pets wander unsupervised. • Report all animal bites to your city/town's animal control officer. • Securely cover all garbage cans so wild animals cannot scavenge for food.
For more information, visit www.health.ri.gov/diseases/rabies, or www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/rabies.htm.