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Rare case of house pet contracting rabies in Glen Ellen

Members of a Glen Ellen family are undergoing preventive care after being bitten by their rabid cat, the first domestic animal known to have contracted the deadly disease in 16 years.

The case serves as a warning of the necessity for people to get their dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies, said Dr. Karen Holbrook, deputy health officer for Sonoma County Department of Health Services.

"We are trying to get the word out: rabies is in our wild life in Sonoma County," Holbrook said. "It exists and it is important to vaccinate all of our pets."

Holbrook declined to be specific about the incident, because of privacy concerns, but said the cat was diagnosed with the disease on Jan. 23 after the family took it to the vet.

The cat, which had been acting aggressively and bitten members of the family, was euthanized.

"It was an unvaccinated cat; it had indoor and outdoor privileges and it acquired rabies," Holbrook said. "The owners are around a lot and recognized the cat was acting abnormal. From the onset of the disease to death was 10 days."

The family also has an adult dog, which had been vaccinated, and has now received a booster shot and will be quarantined for a month.

The household also includes two other cats and a puppy, all unvaccinated. They now have been vaccinated and will be quarantined for six months.

The last domestic pet in Sonoma County with rabies was in 1997. Since then, 25 bats, three skunks and one raccoon have tested positive for rabies.

Vaccination clinics are being offered by VIP PetCare for $5 during the next three weeks, according to the health department. Information is available on www.vippetcare.com, 1-800-427-7973.

(You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob.norberg@pressdemocrat.com.)


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