The rabid cat that was reported out at Lake Sweetwater was described as a light yellowish, cream-colored male tom cat and was found on Bahia Drive in Sweetwater.
As the cat appeared to show signs of rabies and was unvaccinated, a call was made for a Nolan County Sheriff's Deputy. Once the deputy arrived, the cat was shot, bagged and taken in for testing.
Because of the sighting, awareness is being raised about animal bites, namely from possibly rabid animals. Anytime a warm-blooded animal like a cat, dog, skunk, fox or bat bites a person, there is a chance that the animal could be infected with rabies.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the following steps should be taken if a potentially rabid animal bites you:
• Identify the animal. Most animals that have bitten a person must either be quarantined and observed for signs of rabies or tested for rabies. If the animal is to be tested, a qualified person should separate the animal head from the body and submit the head (or whole body of a bat) for laboratory testing.
• Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water as a first aid procedure.
• Consult a physician as soon as possible to determine whether post-exposure treatment is needed.
Dr. Jerod Peek with East Ridge Veterinary Hospital greatly stressed the importance of reporting an animal bite. Peek stated that with an unfamiliar animal — though it may appear normal, there is no way to determine if the rabies vaccine has been administered.
Dr. Peek also noted the significant notion that it is possible for the animal to have rabies even before physical indicators are visible. Thus, there is no way to determine if the animal has been exposed to rabies.
Sweetwater Animal Control continues to push for all pet-owners to vaccinate their pets — not only to prevent the spread of rabies to pets, but to others as well.