WILKES-BARRE — Three city residents are undergoing treatment to prevent rabies after they were attacked by a rabid cat last week, city health department director Ted Kross confirmed Monday.
Kross said the first victim was bitten in the leg by an orange tabby cat after he tried to shoo the feline away from his car on George Avenue on Wednesday. The city’s animal control officer located the cat on Thursday. Officials got word Friday that the animal tested positive for rabies.
Kross said health-department worker Delphine Torbik posted fliers in the man’s neighborhood advising residents a rabid animal had been found there. Two additional people came forward to say they believed they had been scratched by the cat. They, too, are undergoing treatment, Kross said.
Kross said the cat, a stray, exhibited unusual behavior, including shaking its head from side to side, that led the animal control officer to suspect it might be rabid. The cat was taken to state Department of Agriculture lab in Tunkhannock, where it was euthanized. A test of its brain confirmed it had rabies.
The case marks the second time a rabid animal has been found in Wilkes-Barre within the past year. Last year a rabid cat was found near River Street, Kross said.
Rabies vaccinations involve a series of four shots that are administered in the arm or buttocks over 28 days. The procedure, while painful, is less painful than in previous years, when the shots had to be administered into the abdomen, Kross said.
Kross and Torbik cautioned residents to be careful around stray animals and to report any unusual behavior they see in a domestic or wild animal to the health department at 570-208-4268.
“If you see any animal acting strangely contact the Wilkes-Barre City Health Department so we can try to capture them. This includes wild animals. They are usually the animals that bring the infection to begin with,” Kross said.