Confirmed rabies in Waco has officials urging community to be cautious of strays

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 1:27pm

For the first time in almost a decade, the rabies virus has made its way into Waco. According to city animal control officers, the last documented case of rabies was in 2006. Now, Waco police are reporting a woman who was exposed to the virus, along with at least nine of her pets, last Friday.

"It's human nature to try and protect animals," said Waco Police Spokesman Sergeant Patrick Swanton.

Taking in stray animals is a common occurrence for Waco residents. It's rabies that's the rarity.

Last Friday, at a home in the 3700 block of South Third Street, a woman was bit on the thumb and scratched by an infected cat.

"She was trying to help an animal that just wandered into her yard, appeared to be okay, was with her animals. But, when she went to pick it up, it became very aggressive, almost instantaneously," said Swanton.

The animal was taken for quarantine, where it was pronounced dead the next morning. The woman who was attacked now has to undergo a series of lengthy, expensive shots.

"If you don't get treated, it's nearly 100 percent fatal," said Swanton.

Officials caution everyone that the virus is now active in the area, so don't take in strays and be on alert for warning signs of a sick animal.

"Being lethargic, or maybe being drunk, foaming at the mouth is another sign, very aggressive towards humans, approaching humans, that's an indicator that that animal is either sick or very injured," said Swanton.

Rabies is also highly contagious.

"If a dog, per say, has the rabies virus and were to lick you, or lick you in the mouth, or lick your hand and you transfer it to your mouth or nose or eyes, then that's how the virus is transferred," said Swanton.

The infected cat was sent off for testing. The victim, we're told, is now recovering.

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