Colony of cats killed in Delaware after kitten tests positive for rabies
An unidentified woman’s more than 50 felines, which were living in her house in Bear, had to be euthanized. Public health officials said there was ‘no reliable information’ to prove that most of the cats in question had gotten their rabies shots.
GLOW IMAGES, INC/GETTY IMAGES/GLOW RMThe kitten, not pictured, was Delaware’s eighth confirmed case of rabies in 2014.
Dozens of cats that once belonged to a Delaware woman had to be euthanized after a kitten tested positive for rabies.
The unidentified woman had a colony of more than 50 felines living in and around her house in Bear, state health officials said Thursday. She surrendered all of them to animal control authorities.
There was “no reliable information to show rabies vaccinations for the large number of cats in question,” according to Delaware's Division of Public Health.
First State Animal Center & SPCA executive director Kevin Usilton told The News Journal that the cats were all in bad shape and euthanasia was the humane option.
He said it was likely that there was a widespread rabies infection among the cats, who mostly stayed indoors.
The four-week-old kitten tested positive for rabies earlier this month, making it the state’s eighth confirmed animal case since January.
All but one kitten in its litter died from rabies-like symptoms, the Division of Public Health said. Most of the remaining cats were put down by Thursday.
“We see this a lot when population sizes get too large,” Delaware Office of Animal Welfare executive director Hettie Brown told The News Journal. “It's very hard for an owner or caretaker to keep track of which ones are vaccinated.”
She added that “it's a horrible tragedy, but something we can learn from.”
Health officials warned that rabies is a dangerous and easily-spread disease.
“Residents should always take precautions against rabies by avoiding wild or unfamiliar animals and ensuring their pets are up-to-date with rabies shots,” the department said.