The Falls Church Animal Hospital reported to the News-Press today that it recently had to euthanize an 11-week-old kitten from Vienna because it was exposed to rabies. Becky Keenan, Falls Church City’s animal warden, told the hospital that there have been five positive and three probable rabies infected raccoons in the City of Falls Church over the past year.
According to Dr. Amy Yam at the animal hospital, the kitten contracted the virus when it was eight weeks old. “It was bitten when it was eight weeks old and didn’t have any clinical signs, but then, when we saw it, it had started to develop neurological signs,” Yam said.
“Fortunately, Brian Bullock, who is the Fairfax County rabies coordinator, had the answer as far as whether or not the pet was rabies-positive within six hours of having the cat. He acted very quickly, understanding that there was not only risk to the owner, but staff members that were handling the cat.”
Yam said that the kitten was born to stray mother in a Vienna woman’s garage, but not contained in the garage. According to Yam, animals don’t usually get vaccinated for rabies until they’re 12 weeks old because they are usually contained in environments where there is low risk of exposure to rabies, but that wasn’t the case with this kitten.
Yam said that this was the first time that she had seen a pet at the animal hospital that was rabies-positive, despite the recent uptick in rabid raccoons in the region over the past year or so. Coincidentally, it is currently the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s 2016 Rabies Awareness Week. For more information, visit vvma.org/Rabies-Awareness.