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Rabid cat attacks 3 farm workers in Southampton County, health officials say

The attack happened in the Plank Road area of Southampton County, but the Virginia Department of Health didn't say when.

SOUTHAMPTON COUNTY, Va. — Author's note: The video above is about wild horses on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, on file from June 3.

A stray cat that attacked three farm workers in Southampton County tested positive for rabies, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

The attack happened in the Plank Road area of Southampton County, but VDH didn't say when. Southampton County health officials got the rabies test back on Thursday.

Rabies is highly preventable if a vaccine is given early and as recommended, but without preventative treatment, the disease can't be cured once someone shows symptoms and it's fatal in almost all cases.

People can be exposed to rabies when the saliva of an infected animal enters the body through an open wound or mucous membrane, such as with an animal bite. An animal exposure can be a serious medical event, for which quick evaluation and complete treatment are critical.

Health officials have some recommendations for people to protect their families and their pets from rabies:

  • Always report any human contact with a wild animal and always, avoid and report strange acting wildlife to your local animal control.
  • Get medical treatment quickly for any animal bite to ensure appropriate and timely evaluation and treatment. All animal exposures should be taken seriously.
  • Don't approach wild or stray animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, cats and dogs.
  • Make sure all pet dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations.
  • Confine your pets to your property.
  • Securely seal garbage containers with lids. 

Virginia state law requires all dogs and cats four months and older to be vaccinated against rabies. For information about doing so, you can visit VDH's website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

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