Man who rescued rabid cat starts treatment for exposure Feline scratched him before he took it to vet

December 04, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Tanya Jones contributed to this article.

A Glen Burnie man who was the subject of a weeklong search hTC starting life-saving treatment for rabies exposure after he saw a television news report about himself yesterday and rushed to the Pasadena veterinary practice where he had taken a sick cat.

Anne Arundel County health workers determined that James Fredlund was, in fact, exposed to the fatal disease.

"He was scratched on the hand when he was retrieving the cat from under his car," said Katherine Farrell, deputy Anne Arundel County health officer for public health.

Fredlund, 33, of the 7900 block of Elvaton Road in Glen Burnie, will undergo a monthlong series of five shots. The vaccine, supplied by the county Health Department, costs nearly $1,000. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Health workers began searching for Fredlund a week ago, after he and his sons took a stray to Huffard Animal Hospital in the 7900 block of Ritchie Highway, where it was determined that the cat was rabid.

Julie Petersen, manager at Huffard, said Fredlund told them yesterday that his phone number was being changed, which caused a mix-up.

As health officials had suspected, Fredlund had gone out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday, unaware that anyone was looking for him until he switched on the noon news yesterday.

Health officials determined that Fredlund's sons had not been exposed to rabies.

However, they fear that others might have had contact with the cat or two kittens, probably from the same litter, that were living ,, by a trash bin with a raccoon. All are presumed rabid, based on what Fredlund and his sons told officials.

"For several months they had watched a raccoon raise these kittens. The raccoon would take food out of this Dumpster and feed [them]. Then the raccoon disappeared," said Tahira Williams, a county animal control officer.

Animal control officers set traps near the trash bin and in nearby woods to capture the other cats. The animals will be killed to prevent further spread of the disease. People in the apartment complex are being warned away from the traps and the animals, and are being advised to call health officials if they think they have come in contact with loose animals there.

Rabies is commonly spread by saliva of infected animals.

Fredlund's son Drew, 14, said he had not seen the two kittens or their mother since the night they took the cat to Huffard.

The number of rabies cases in Anne Arundel has risen to 86 so far this year, including three cases in domestic cats. There were 38 cases in 1995, none in domestic animals.

Williams said the incident reinforces what animal control officers tell people about animals: "If you don't know whose it is, don't touch it. And if it's yours, keep it vaccinated."

Pub Date: 12/04/96

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