What Are The Immediate Steps I Need To Take In Case Of An Animal Bite
- Wash the bite area with soap and water for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Cover the bite area with a clean bandage.
- If you know the animals owner, get all the information about the animal, including vaccination status and owner’s name and address. Call your local health department, especially if the animal hasn’t been vaccinated.
- If you don’t know the animals owner or if a wild animal bites you, immediately call your local animal control authorities to get help finding the animal that caused the bite. The animal will need to be confined and observed for signs of rabies.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/04/2019.
How To Prevent Rabies
Because theres no cure for rabies in cats, vaccination is the most important thing you can do to protect Kitty. Indoor or outdoor, young or oldevery cat needs to be vaccinated for rabies. Kittens can be vaccinated as early as 12 weeks of age. Because of differences among the brands of feline rabies vaccine on the market, your vet may recommend one or a variety.
What Is The Care For Animal Bites
For superficial bites from a familiar household pet that is immunized and in good health:
Wash the wound with soap and water under pressure from a faucet for at least 5 minutes, but do not scrub, as this may bruise the tissue. Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream.
Watch for signs of infection at the site, such as increased redness or pain, swelling, drainage, or if the person develops a fever. Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these symptoms happen.
For deeper bites or puncture wounds from any animal, or for any bite from a strange animal:
If the bite or scratch is bleeding, apply pressure to it with a clean bandage or towel to stop the bleeding.
Wash the wound with soap and water under pressure from a faucet for at least 5 minutes. Do not scrub as this may bruise the tissue.
Dry the wound and cover it with a sterile dressing. Do not use tape or butterfly bandages to close the wound as this could trap harmful bacteria in the wound.
If possible, locate the animal that inflicted the wound. Some animals need to be captured, confined, and observed for rabies. Do not try to capture the animal yourself. Contact the nearest animal warden or animal control office in your area.
If the animal cannot be found or is a high-risk species , or the animal attack was unprovoked, the victim may need a series of rabies shots and a dose of rabies immunoglobulin.
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How The Rabies Virus Spreads
In the United States wildlife, such as skunks, foxes, bats, and raccoons are the ones most responsible for the spread of rabies however, this virus can be seen in any mammal. Typically, rabies is most common in areas that have high populations of feral cats and dogs that are unvaccinated.
Rabies spreads through the saliva of infected animals and is commonly transmitted through bites from infected mammals. Rabies can also spread if an infected animal’s saliva comes in contact with mucous membranes , or an open wound. The more your cat comes into contact with wild animals, the higher their risk of infection becomes.
If your cat does happen to be infected with the rabies virus they can spread it to you as well as the other pets and people living in your home. Humans can get rabies when the saliva of an infected animal such as your cat comes into contact with mucus membrane or broken skin. You can become infected with rabies by getting scratched although it’s very rare and highly unlikely. If you believe you have been in contact with the rabies virus it’s very important to contact your doctor immediately so they can give you a rabies vaccine to prevent the disease from advancing.
Rabies In Cats: Treatment
As weve already mentioned, rabies in cats is untreatable and has no cure. Rabies acts very quickly and is lethal in cats. If your cat has been infected, the first thing that your vet will do is isolate it so that other felines dont become infected. Depending on the progress of the disease, euthanasia is the generally the only option.
This is why prevention is very important, since it is the only way to protect your cat against this disease. Pay special attention to your cat if it spends a lot of time outside of your home and is in contact with other animals.
Remember that rabies affects dogs, cats, ferrets, bats and foxes. Therefore, your cat may become infected if it fights with any of these animals. If your cat is prone to getting in fights, we suggest making sure that your cat is vaccinated.
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Are There Any Ill Effects From Rabies Vaccination
Rabies vaccines are safe and there is no risk of the vaccine causing rabies. The formation of lumps or cancers has been associated with some types of killed vaccines in the past, but these cases are extremely rare. Safer vaccines that are less prone to creating tissue reactions are available, so talk with your veterinarian if you are concerned with this remote possibility.
As with all vaccines, the individual cat may show some transient mild side effects in the day or so following vaccination. These may include some lethargy and inappetence. If your cat shows more pronounced signs including difficulty in breathing this could indicate an allergic reaction to one or more components of the vaccine and you should call your veterinarian at once.
|Contributors: Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH Ernest Ward, DVM|
Final Advice On Rabies In Cats
Rabies is a highly contagious and devastating disease in cats. If the clinical symptoms are manifested, it is challenging to treat the disease. The best way of controlling and preventing the disease is pre-exposure vaccination at an early age and revaccinate yearly. It would be best if you maintain your cats safe from wild animals and street dogs. A healthy and lively cat is one of the best pet animals for houses and apartments.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Cat With Rabies
A cat with rabies has no symptoms that can be seen at transmission. But after incubation, abnormalities will gradually appear, such as evidently changed behavior, aggressiveness such as biting and striking out, excessive salivation and paralysis that results in death. By the time you see such signs, it’s usually too late to stop. Timely vaccinations will keep your cat from ever experiencing rabies, even if he’s bit by a rabid animal.
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Treatment For Rabies In Cats
There is no ideal treatment for Rabies in cats. If you suspect your cats have Rabies, you should keep your cats in quarantine. The zoonotic threat posed by rabies virus infection in cats justifies isolation and quarantine of cats suspected of or known to be infected. Your expert or veterinarian is required by law to notify the animal disease regulatory authorities.
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How Can A Cat Get Rabies
In the United States, rabies is uncommon in domestic animals. Most states have laws mandating vaccines to prevent the spread of rabies in cats, dogs, and other animals. The CDC reports that there were only 241 cases of rabies in cats in 2018 .
When a cat does get rabies, it’s usually from the bite of an infected wild animal. Raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes are common rabies carriers. The more contact your cat has with wild animals, the higher the risk of their infection.
What If My Pet Has Been Bitten
- Consult your veterinarian immediately and report the bite to local animal control authorities.
- Even if your dog, cat or ferret has a current vaccination, he/she should be revaccinated immediately, kept under the owners control, and observed for a period as specified by state law or local ordinance. Animals with expired vaccinations will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
- Dogs, cats and ferrets that have never been vaccinated and are exposed to a rabid animal may need to be euthanatized in accordance with regulations or placed in strict isolation for six months.
- Animals other than dogs, cats, and ferrets that are bitten by a rabid or potentially rabid animal may need to be euthanatized immediately.
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Serious But Rare Complications
Although rare, CSD can cause people to have serious complications. CSD can affect the brain, eyes, heart, or other internal organs. These rare complications, which may require intensive treatment, are more likely to occur in children 5-14 years of age and people with weakened immune systems.
Most cats with B. henselae infection show NO signs of illness, but on rare occasions this disease can cause inflammation of the heartmaking cats very sick with labored breathing. B. henselae infection may also develop in the mouth, urinary system, or eyes. Your veterinarian may find that some of your cats other organs may be inflamed.
How Is Rabies Diagnosed And Treated
Rabies in cats isn’t obvious right away. There is an incubation phase after exposure that lasts several weeks â and even up to a year â when the cat wonât show any signs of rabies, and their saliva will not be infectious.
There is no test for rabies in living animals. If you suspect your cat has been exposed to rabies, your vet will suggest that you isolate the cat and watch for symptoms. A booster vaccine might be able to prevent a cat from getting infected after exposure to rabies.
If your cat begins to show symptoms, there is nothing you or your vet can do. There is no treatment or cure for rabies in cats. Once symptoms appear, a catâs health will deteriorate quickly and it will die within a matter of days.
Your cat should be humanely euthanized to ease their suffering and to protect the other people and pets in your home. If your cat dies suddenly of what you suspect to be rabies, your vet may recommend having a sample from the catâs brain examined. Direct testing of the brain is the only way to diagnose rabies for sure.
The best protection against rabies in cats is a regular rabies vaccine. Speak to your vet about making sure your cat is up to date on their rabies shots.
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Why Getting Your Feline The Vaccine Is Important
Alycia Washington is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with nearly a decade of experience as a small animal emergency veterinarian. She currently works as a relief veterinarian for various emergency and specialty hospitals. Dr. Washington recognizes the importance of education and also works as a freelance veterinary writer.
As a pet owner, you know that your pet is vulnerable to rabies. However, do you understand all the aspects of the rabies disease for your cat? Are you aware of how rabies can affect your other pets and family members? It is important to understand why your cat needs a rabies vaccine.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Rabies
The first symptoms of rabies can appear from a few days to more than a year after the bite happens.
At first, there’s a tingling, prickling, or itching feeling around the bite area. A person also might have flu-like symptoms such as a fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, and tiredness.
After a few days, neurological symptoms develop, including:
- irritability or aggressiveness
- weakness or paralysis
- extreme sensitivity to bright lights, sounds, or touch
Someone with rabies can produce a lot of saliva , and muscle spasms in their throat might make it hard to swallow. This causes the “foaming at the mouth” effect that has long been associated with rabies infection. It also leads to a fear of choking or what seems like a “fear of water,” another well-known rabies sign.
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What Animals Can Get Rabies
Only mammals can get rabies birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians do not. In the United States, most cases of rabies occur in wild animalsmainly skunks, raccoons, bats, coyotes, and foxes. In recent years, cats have become the most common domestic animal infected with rabies. This is because many cat owners do not vaccinate their cats and cats can be exposed to rabid wildlife, either outdoors or when bats get into the house. Rabies also occurs in dogs and cattle in significant numbers and, while not as common, has been diagnosed in horses, goats, sheep, swine and ferrets.
Vaccination programs and control of stray animals have been effective in preventing rabies in most pets. Approved rabies vaccines are available for cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, cattle and sheep. Licensed oral vaccines are also being used for mass immunization of wildlife, particularly raccoons.
Treating Cats With Rabies
If your cat starts showing any symptoms of rabies, there is unfortunately nothing you or your vet will be able to do to help them. There is no known cure for rabies and once symptoms start appearing, their health will deteriorate within a few days.
If your pet has gotten the kitten shots that protect them from rabies, including all required boosters, show your veterinarian proof of vaccination. If anyone has come into contact with your cat’s saliva or was bitten by your pet , tell them to contact a physician immediately to get treatment. Unfortunately, rabies is always fatal for unvaccinated animals, usually within 7 to 10 days after the initial symptoms first appeared.
If your cat is diagnosed with rabies you will have to report the case to your local health department. An unvaccinated pet that is bitten or exposed to a known rabid animal must be quarantined for up to six months, or according to local and state regulations. A vaccinated animal that has bitten or scratched a human, conversely, should be quarantined and monitored for 10 days.
Your pet should be humanely euthanized to ease their suffering and to protect the other people and pets in your home. If your cat dies suddenly of what you suspect to be rabies, your vet may recommend having a sample from the cats brain examined. Direct testing of the brain is the only way to diagnose rabies for sure.
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Diagnosis Of Rabies In Cats
If your cat has been bitten by an animal that you suspect might carry the rabies virus or is displaying symptoms associated with rabies, but your cat is not displaying these symptoms, he/she will be quarantined for a ten day period. It is important to inform the veterinarian of the state of the animal that bit your cat as immediate treatment may be necessary. The veterinarian will review your felines medical record, paying close attention to when her last rabies vaccination was administered. After the 10 day quarantine, the vet will reevaluate the cat and decide if she has been infected.
If your cat is displaying symptoms associated with rabies, the diagnosis can be difficult as early symptoms associated with rabies can be confused with a number of other common feline health concerns. The only true way of diagnosing rabies is by a direct examination of the cats brain. The feline will have to be euthanized to perform a post-mortem antibody test using immunofluorescent dyes.
Is The Rabies Vaccine Safe
The risk of the vaccine causing serious harm is very small. Current vaccines used in the United States cause fewer bad reactions than previous rabies vaccines. Typical mild problems include soreness, redness, swelling, or itching at the sit of the shot. Other mild problems can include headache, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, and dizziness.
More moderate to severe vaccine side effects include hives, joint pain, and fever. Signs of a severe allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, rapid heartbeat, or dizziness. Waiting in the doctors office or emergency area for 30 minutes after a vaccine will usually provide time to see if a severe allergic reaction will occur. If you experience any moderate to severe side effects, call your doctor right away.
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What Can I Do To Help Control Rabies
Remember that rabies is entirely preventable through vaccination.
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and select horses and livestock. Your veterinarian will advise you on the recommended or required frequency of vaccination in your area.
- Reduce the possibility of exposure to rabies by not letting your pets roam free. Keep cats and ferrets indoors, and supervise dogs when they are outside. Spaying or neutering your pet may decrease roaming tendencies and will prevent them from contributing to the birth of unwanted animals.
- Dont leave exposed garbage or pet food outside, as it may attract wild or stray animals.
- Wild animals should never be kept as pets. Not only may this be illegal, but wild animals pose a potential rabies threat to caretakers and to others.
- Observe all wild animals from a distance. A rabid wild animal may appear tame but dont go near it. Teach children NEVER to handle unfamiliar animalseven if they appear friendly.
- If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to the city or county animal control department.
- Bat-proof your home and other structures to prevent bats from nesting and having access to people or pets.
Signs Of The Feline Rabies
Clinical rabies infection in cats, like dogs, is divided into two general categories. These are the furious and the paralytic form.
- The earliest stage of infection, the signs include vague neurologic and behavioral changes, irritation at the viral injection site, fever, and increased agitation lasting for only 1-2 days.
- As the disease progresses, your cats are more likely to manifest the furious type of disease. Your affected cats become particularly aggressive towards humans as well as other animals and inanimate objects.
- They are described as having an anxious appearance and will make malicious attempts to bite or scratch at any moving object.
- The affected cats may run or pace continuously until they collapse.
- Affected cats manifest paraparesis, incoordination, paralysis, coma, and death.
- In contrast to dogs, cats with Rabies frequently manifest increased vocalization and change in voice pitch.
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