Man, two children are sought after cat is found to be rabid They brought tabby to veterinarian

November 28, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel and state health officials are trying to track down a man and two children whose kind deed of bringing a sick cat to a Pasadena veterinarian could cost them their lives.

The cat was rabid.

The three must be checked for exposure to rabies and, if necessary, start preventive treatment "ideally by Saturday," said Lisa Purvis, program manager for communicable diseases for Anne Arundel County. The typical incubation period for rabies is about 10 days.

"Rabies is an invariably fatal disease," said Karon Damewood, nurse consultant for the state Center for Veterinary Public Health.

A man with two children brought the female gray tabby, believed to be a stray, to Huffard Animal Hospital on Ritchie Highway in Pasadena between 5: 30 p.m. and 6: 30 p.m. last Thursday.

Julie Petersen, manager of the veterinary practice, said the man told them he thought the cat had been hit by a car, but the cat had no obvious injuries.

The man told employees he had seen the cat in his neighborhood for two to three months. But last Thursday "it didn't look right" and he put it in a box and brought it to them, he said.

When veterinarian Bruce Goldman examined the animal, it behaved strangely, was euthanized and was tested for the disease, Petersen said.

She said efforts to find the man and children failed because the name, address and telephone number in Glen Burnie that he gave them were bogus. It is common for people to give false information if they do not want to be held financially responsible for an animal's care. "This is a matter of saving their lives," Damewood said. "It is really important that they seek health care."

The man, the children and any others who think they came into contact with the cat should call an emergency health hot line, (410) 795-7365, Purvis said.

The rabies virus, which attacks the central nervous system, is spread through the saliva of an infected animal. Most commonly, it is transmitted though a bite or other break in the skin, Purvis said. But it can be spread if the animal's saliva touches a mucous membrane -- eyes, nose or mouth. Touching the dry fur of an infected animal is not enough to contract the disease.

Pub Date: 11/28/96

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