Officials say cat brought to Voorhees animal shelter is rabid

The Camden County Health Department announced Tuesday that a stray cat brought to a Voorhees animal shelter last month is rabid.

After arriving at the shelter on May 23, shelter employees arranged for rabies testing at Public Health and Environmental Laboratories on June 5 when it began to show rabies symptoms. Rabies test results came back positive on Monday. 

The cat’s veterinarian at the Voorhees shelter was urged to discuss rabies post-exposure prophylaxis with their doctor, and authorities say there were no other known human exposures. 

"Although rabies is a serious illness, it can be prevented by early treatment," said Commissioner Virginia Betteridge, liaison to the Camden County Health Department. "If you have been bitten or scratched by a wild animal it is important that you seek immediate medical attention."

Betteridge encouraged pet owners to take the following preventative measures: 

  • Keep vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats, and ferrets.
  • Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
  • Contact your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood. They may be unvaccinated and could be infected by the disease.

Betteridge also advised avoiding direct contact with unfamiliar animals:

  • Enjoy wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, and foxes from afar. Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or liter.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they seem friendly.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas where they might come in contact with people or pets.
  • When traveling abroad, avoid direct contact with wild animals and be especially careful around dogs in developing countries. Rabies is common in developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Tens of thousands of people die of rabies each year in these countries.