Stray Kitten in Nebraska Tests Positive for Rare Rabies Strain, Raising Concerns
OMAHA, NE – In a shocking turn of events, a stray kitten in Omaha has tested positive for a rare variant of rabies that has never been seen before in Nebraska. The discovery has sparked concerns among health officials, who warn that if not contained, the potentially deadly disease could put an estimated 7 million Americans at risk.
The black-and-white tuxedo kitten, named Stanley, was taken in by a couple in Omaha who later reported being bitten and scratched by the animal. Initially, the couple believed that Stanley was having a bad reaction to medication, but the veterinarian suspected a remote possibility of rabies. Sadly, Stanley passed away the day after being taken to the vet’s office.
Urgent testing is currently underway to determine whether Stanley infected any of the roughly 10 people he bit or scratched, as well as other animals. The results were shocking – genetic testing revealed that Stanley carried a variant of rabies typically associated with raccoons, a strain never before seen in Nebraska.
Health officials are now scrambling to prevent the spread of the disease. Efforts are being made to vaccinate wildlife, particularly raccoons, in hopes of containing the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that if left uncontained, the virus could potentially expand up to a 24-mile radius per year, putting an alarming 7 million Americans at risk over the next five years.
Rabies is an almost 100 percent fatal disease in humans if not treated early. It is important to note, however, that rabies cannot be spread between people. Symptoms of the disease in humans include fever, headache, excess salivation, muscle spasms, paralysis, and mental confusion.
Although there is currently no specific treatment for rabies, a vaccine can prevent infection. Individuals who have been exposed to rabies are administered Rabies Post-Exposure Prophylaxis treatment, which includes a vaccine and antibody treatment.
As the investigation continues and efforts to contain the disease intensify, health officials are urging residents to be cautious around stray animals and report any suspicious behavior. Furthermore, pet owners are strongly encouraged to have their animals vaccinated to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.
The shocking discovery of this rare strain of rabies in Nebraska serves as a reminder of the importance of vaccination and the need to remain vigilant when interacting with animals. With swift action and community cooperation, local authorities hope to prevent any further spread of this alarming disease.
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