COOK COUNTY, Ill. (KWQC) — Animal control officials in Illinois are urging pet owners to protect their animals from rabies.
Rabies can be deadly. According to Cook County Animal and Rabies Control, over the past couple of weeks, an outdoor cat in Ogle County tested positive for the disease. So did an outdoor cat in Cass County, Missouri. Cook County is now increasing rabies surveillance of feral cats.
According to an alert, the county is expanding its surveillance program. Typically, only animals suspected of having rabies would be tested if they have come into contact with people. But arrangements have been made to test deceased feral cats that have not come into contact with a human.
“Pet owners should not panic,” said Animal and Rabies Control Administrator Dr. Donna Alexander, “but [they] should take precaution to protect their pets.”
According to the alert issued Tuesday, residents should:
- Make sure all dogs and ferrets, in addition to cats, are vaccinated against rabies.
- Be aware that outdoor cats may also come into contact with infected animals, which can include skunks and raccoons. Keep pets from roaming outside.
- Not approach stray or unknown cats outside.
- Instruct all members of their family to use extreme caution in approaching an unattended animal, whether wildlife or domestic. Do not approach unknown cats.
Cook County has also confirmed 20 bats have tested positive for rabies so far this year. Last year, 23 bats tested positive for rabies in the county.
According to animal control, the small brown bat is the major carrier of rabies in Illinois and is small enough enter a home through a crack or small opening. Cat owners are bing urged to have their indoor cats vaccinated in the event a rabid brown bat enters the home.
According to the CDC, signs and symptoms of rabies in humans are similar to flu symptoms.