Rabid bobcat strikes Fluvanna
One or more people are undergoing a series of rabies shots in Fluvanna County, where a bobcat recently tested positive for the virus, according to Thomas Jefferson Health District spokesperson Jeff McDaniel.
"There were several people who had some possible exposure," McDaniel says, declining to offer details on specific cases. McDaniel says a bobcat approached two dogs and their owner about two weeks ago. Though McDaniel says the dogs fought with the bobcat, which died, he would not reveal whether the dogs, their owner or another individual killed the cat. He says anyone approached by a wild animal should exercise extreme caution.
"When an animal has rabies and is in it's last few days of life," he says, "they act strangely and will attack." Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system and almost invariably results in death. The disease is spread through contact with the saliva or brain tissue of an infected animal.
While McDaniel says this is the first documented case of a rabies infected bobcat in Central Virginia, he says rabies is relatively common in this area. So far in 2006 there have been 11 animals that have tested positive for rabies in Charlottesville and Albemarle. Definitive diagnosis can only be done through a postmortem biopsy of the animal's brain. The bobcat is Fluvanna's first rabies case of the year, says McDaniel.
While humans can receive effective treatment soon after a bite by a rabid animal, other animals– including dogs and cats– cannot be treated after exposure, making rabies vaccinations critical. "If you have an unvaccinated animal exposed to rabies," says McDaniel, "we normally recommend you put the animal to sleep. In a lot of cases they're going to come down with rabies. And that's a shame." #