Press release from Buncombe County Health and Human Services:
Health Officials with Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) were alerted of a community cat, previously referred to as a feral cat, that exhibited behaviors associated with rabies through an attack on a dog.
The cat was gray in color and was last seen in the Clarks Chapel Church Rd community of Weaverville, NC. Due to the unknown immunization status of the cat, the public is advised to be cautious and notify Animal Control if they see the cat.
“Rabies is a serious disease that can be deadly without immediate treatment. Any person who thinks they may have come into contact with this cat should contact BCHHS Communicable Disease at (828) 250-5109,” said Jessica Silver, BCHHS Environmental Health Director.
Rabid animals are unpredictable, aggressive, and can attack people and other animals. Some signs of rabies in animals are changes in an animal’s behavior, general sickness, problems swallowing, increased drooling, and aggression. Wild animals with rabies may move slowly or act as if they are tame. A pet that is usually friendly may snap at you or may try to bite.
Local officials are urging residents in the area to do the following:
- Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you believe you or your child came in contact with the cat.
- Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if you believe your pet came in contact with this cat.
- Be sure that pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations per North Carolina law.
- Avoid wild or unfamiliar animals: keep children and pets away from wild or unfamiliar animals, keep your pet on a leash when out for a walk, and do not rescue or touch wild or unfamiliar animals.
- If your pet comes in contact with a wild or unfamiliar animal, avoid contact with both animals.
- Contact Animal Control if you see an animal acting strangely or if you, someone else, or your pet comes in contact with a wild or unfamiliar animal. If in Buncombe County, call Buncombe County Sheriff’s Animal Control at 250-6670. If in the City of Asheville, call Asheville Police Department’s Animal Control at 252-1110.
- If you have been bitten by any animal:
1. Clean your wound thoroughly for at least 10 minutes with soap and water.
2. Immediately contact the appropriate jurisdiction’s Animal Control if you or your pet is bitten to assist in capturing the animal for observation and/or rabies testing.
3. See a medical provider for wound evaluation and possible treatment.
“Post-exposure vaccines” can prevent rabies disease in humans if started as soon as possible after the exposure and before the development of symptoms. If a person bitten by an animal with rabies does not get the recommended rabies post-exposure treatment, survival is rare.
Any medical provider who cares for someone who has been bitten by an animal must report the animal bite within 24 hours. The animal bite report form is available on our website at www.buncombecounty.org – under the “I Want to Report” section at the top of the homepage. If the animal is caught and tested and does not have rabies, exposed persons will not need post-exposure vaccines.
In Buncombe County, contact BCHHS Communicable Disease at (828) 250-5109 for questions or concerns related to rabies exposure.