On Wednesday, the Baltimore City Health Department confirmed a positive case of rabies in a stray domestic short hair female cat, found July 7th in the 400 block of Kingston Road, just east of the Baltimore City/County line. A resident brought the animal, who was injured, to a vet clinic, where it was euthanized upon arrival. The rescuing resident is the only person who received exposure to the animal–the individual is receiving medical treatment. Rabies is an extremely serious viral disease, and it is important (and the law) that you have your pets vaccinated against it, and also important to keep pets from wandering off your property.

The instance of this sick stray cat is not cause for fresh panic, as it is not likely that another positive case of rabies will surface in Baltimore for years. Most likely, the cat caught the disease from a rabid raccoon or other wild animal, one more reason not to let your pets prowl.

“While rare, rabies does occur, more commonly in wildlife such as raccoons and foxes.  These animals are present even in the city, which is why we recommend that people not leave pets outside unattended,” explained David Drake, director of development at the MD SPCA.

According to a Health Department press release, “The last positive rabies case of a cat or dog in Baltimore City was in August 2008. Prior to that case, the last positive rabies case of a cat or dog was in 1986.” 

There has not been a case of human rabies in Maryland since 1976.

“Rabies is a life threatening disease which can be easily prevented with a simple vaccination,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “By regularly vaccinating your pets, you are helping protect not just yourself and your family, but your neighbors and the larger community.”

Symptoms of rabies in animals include aggressive behavior, biting, darting eye movement, drooling, and sometimes lethargic behavior. If you come across such an animal, protect yourself first, second, contact the Health Department’s Animal Control Program by dialing 311 for support.