Local News

Rabies Cases On The Rise Across Triangle, State

Posted August 14, 2002

— Rabies cases are on the rise in North Carolina. Wake County has reported 15 cases this year.

The most recent case was confirmed this week.

For the first time in 25 years, a domesticated cat tested positive for rabies, according to Wake County Animal Control.

The cat, which became extremely aggressive attacked three people in the Cole Ridge section of Raleigh before it was captured and euthanized.

"I heard her screaming 'Get off of me, get off of me.' So I immediately thought she was being attacked by a person," said Philip Isley, a Raleigh city councilman.

Isley said he rushed over to his elderly neighbor's home to find she had been attacked by her own cat. The woman was lying on the ground with numerous bites and scratches.

"The cat turned around and saw me and I started backing up and the cat took one step and then lept at me. I blocked it with my foot. No sooner had he hit the ground and he was up again. It was like a spring," Isley said.

Isley suffered numerous scratches to his leg. Isley, the cat's owner and another neighbor are being treated with rabies shots. The third victim also suffered nerve damage from a bite to her hand.

Officials said the rabid cat was up to date on its rabies vaccinations.

"We all understand that no vaccine is 100 percent effective," said said Dr. Lee Hunter, state veterinarian.

Last year, 571 rabies cases were reported across the state. In the first seven months of this year, 400 cases have been reported.

In the Triangle so far this year, Durham has reported four cases, 15 in Wake County and Orange County reports 21 cases -- more than double all of last year.

"Any animal that expresses or behaves in an unusual manner deserves your respect. Stay away from it," Hunter said.

An increasing number of cats and dogs are part of those numbers, with cats being most susceptible. Though the rabid cat in Raleigh was vaccinated, health officials said updated shots are still the best defense.


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