LUMBERTON — A Lumberton man who was attacked by a rabid cat has started treatment to make sure he does not contract the killer virus.
According to Deputy Police Chief Tommy Barnes, the man was attacked on Tuesday while outside of a home on the 800 block of Sixth Street. Barnes said the man, who lives on the 500 block of Willow Street, was playing cards with a group of people when a “full-sized yellow cat” approached and was “hissing.” The cat jumped on the man’s leg and scratched him.
The men killed the cat, buried him, and then called Animal Control, according to Barnes. They were told to dig up the cat and take him to the Robeson County Animal Shelter, where it was tested for rabies. Barnes said that police received a call Friday afternoon that the cat had tested positive.
Barnes said the victim did not wait on the test results, and had already started a series of shots to prevent getting the disease. Barnes said any person who came into contact with what they suspect might be the rabid cat, or has a pet that might have encountered the cat, should contact their physician or veterinarian.
The man was attacked exactly one week after a rabid raccoon was found on the 2500 block of McMillian Avenue in the Tanglewood community.
Animals most likely to contract rabies include raccoons, foxes, bats and skunks, and domestic animals such as dogs and cats. Small rodents such as squirrels, mice, rats are not vulnerable.
Anyone who suspects an animal of having rabies should contact Animal Control at 910-865-2200 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays or the Lumberton Police Department on weekends or after 5 p.m. at 910-671-3888 or 910-671-3845.
According to Tracy Jones, epidemiology nurse and supervisor of the Robeson County Health Department, rabies is transmitted through the saliva of the infected animal. Jones said that symptoms include drooling or foaming at the mouth, excessive thirst and odd behavior, including approaching humans when the animal would usually avoid them.
Symptoms may take three to 12 weeks to appear as the virus travels from the site of the bite to the brain via the nervous system, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s website. Once the virus reaches the brain, the disease is considered fatal.
For information about rabies, call the Health Department at 910-671-3200 or visit its website at publichealth.sourthernregionalahec.org.