Woman’s Act of Caring for Stray Kitten Turns Into Rabies Ordeal

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By Linda Cicoira-  Cara Burton, of Parksley, is a cat lover who couldn’t resist helping a kitten that she discovered in a rock crevice at Guard Shore’s beach near Bloxom recently.

The director of the Eastern Shore Public Library took the ailing animal to the vet as it appeared to have been thrown where she found it and was suffering.

Unfortunately, Burton’s kindness was rewarded with a series of shots. “Yep, it was rabid,” she announced on Facebook last week. The cat was infected and had bitten her. So Burton wound up in the local emergency room.

“Four shots in arm and thighs” for the first round, she said, adding the treatment wasn’t painful but it was expensive. “Have to get three more over next two weeks.”

The cat “was euthanized because of back trauma,” Burton continued. Paralyzed and blind in one eye, it had a lot of pain. “I was blessed to be able to end its misery. Thankfully the vet saw her ASAP. She was a sweet kitten and seemed genuinely grateful that I pulled her out … kept her warm, and sought medical help.”

A report from the Eastern Shore Health District reminded residents to beware of rabies and to get pets vaccinated. The female grey tabby with tricolor stripes, which was found on Aug. 31, was tested for rabies at the state laboratory.

“Given the remote location this cat was found and its poor condition, it is possible that this cat may have been transported there by someone from another location,” according to the announcement. “If you, your family member or your pets had any potential contact with this cat in any location, please contact the Accomack County Health Department immediately at 757-787-5886.”

Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus in the saliva of infected mammals. It is spread when the virus enters a fresh open wound, or through exposure of a mucous membrane of the nose, eye, or mouth. Rabies is endemic in our raccoon population with spillover into other species. High-risk species also include foxes, skunks, bats, and unvaccinated cats.

“This incident is another reminder that residents of the Eastern Shore must keep a heightened sense of awareness of this deadly disease and always be wary of wild, stray, and unvaccinated animals,” the health department reported. “To protect yourselves, your families, and your own pets … make sure all of your own pets and valuable livestock are up to date on rabies vaccinations. Keep your pets confined to your own property. Avoid contact with wild, stray, or unknown cats, dogs, and wildlife. If you do get bitten or scratched, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and plenty of water and notify your doctor as soon as possible.”

Always report all animal bites to the Accomack County Health Department at 757-787-5880, the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office at 757-787-1131, the Northampton County Health Department 757-442-6228, or the Northampton Sheriff’s Office 757-678-0458.

“If people would spay/neuter their pets and get them vaccinated for rabies, the spread of this deadly disease on the Shore would be greatly reduced,” said Burton. “It is a simple way to protect you and your family and prevent much misery for animals.”