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A kitten with an unusual rabies strain has sparked an unprecedented public health operation in Nebraska.

The stray kitten taken in by an Omaha family was later found to have the killer disease after being tested by a vet.

The variant of rabies is normally linked to raccoons east of Appalachia, and has never been seen before in Nebraska.

The fact it spread to a cat increases the risk of human transmission. Now Douglas County Health officials health officials are scrambling to vaccinate 1,000 raccoons in the local area to prevent onward infection.

Rabies is considered 100 percent fatal in humans if it is not treated before symptoms begin.

The stray kitten taken in by an Omaha family was later found to have rabies – a preventable, viral disease usually spread through the bite of a rabid animal – after being tested by a vet (stock pic)

The variant of rabies the now-deceased kitten was found to have is normally linked to raccoons east of Appalachia, and has never been seen before in Nebraska (stock pic)

County Health Director Lindsay Huse told The Nebraska Examiner: ‘It’s just something that can snowball very quickly. 

‘The goal is to prevent this raccoon variant of rabies from establishing itself here in our area. This would cause a substantial impact if it happened and put many people in danger.’

A team of state and federal officials will trap, test and vaccinate raccoons from F to Fort Streets and from 72nd Street to the Missouri River.

While the virus is not ‘likely significantly differently’ to other rabies strains, there are fears because raccoons are so common in Nebraska and often come into contact with domestic animals and pets.

Officials still do not know how the kitten, who was no more than a couple of months old, became infected or how it arrived at the family’s home who took it in in late September.

The family gave the cat away to another family, who took it to a veterinarian after it exhibited strange behavior and became aggressive.

The vet’s results were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who were able to link it to the raccoon rabies strain.

All 10 people who might have been exposed to the kitten have begun preventative treatment for rabies, the Douglas County Health Department said. 

The kitten was the first cat in 20 years to test positive for rabies in the area. Rabies is more common in bats.

Symptoms of the disease in humans include fever, headache, excess salivation, muscle spasms, paralysis, and mental confusion.

There is no specific treatment for rabies, and once symptoms appear, it is almost always fatal, but a vaccine can prevent infection. 

People who are feared to have been exposed to rabies are given Rabies Post-Exposure Prophlaxis (PEP) — a vaccine and antibody treatment.

They will receive a dose of man-made rabies antibodies to fight the infection as soon as they are exposed, as well as four doses of a rabies vaccine over two weeks.

The vaccine contains a small spike protein from the surface of the rabies virus in order to prepare the immune system to fight the real virus should they become infected.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com

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