news stray cat found on jmu campus tests positive for rabies virus
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Stray cat found on JMU campus tests positive for rabies virus

central shenandoah health districtA stray cat found on the James Madison University campus in Harrisonburg in mid-December has tested positive for rabies.

The cat was brought to the Rockingham Harrisonburg SPCA on Dec. 17 and tested positive on Dec. 22. The cat was euthanized, according to the Central Shenandoah Health District.

While the animal no longer poses a threat to the public, the CSHD is asking anyone who believes they, their child, or their pet, may have made contact with a stray cat in the days leading up to Dec. 17, to contact the Staunton-Augusta Health Department.

Potential exposures to a rabid animal include bites, scratches, or contact with saliva by open wound or eyes, nose, and/or mouth.

CSHD encourages everyone to vaccinate their pets, to protect them, family members, loved ones and the community at large from rabies. Virginia law requires domestic animals to be vaccinated against rabies.

In addition to keeping pets vaccinated and keeping vaccinations current, take these steps to protect families and pets from exposure to rabies:

  • Avoid contact with wild animals, such as raccoons and skunks, or stray cats and dogs.
  • Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs.
  • Report stray animals to your local animal control agency.
  • Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.
  • Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.

For more information or to report possible exposure to the rabid cat, contact the Staunton-Augusta Health Department at (540) 332-7830.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.