Nebraska News

Health officials issue warnings following cat incident; CDC and USDA team up to counter rabies threat in Douglas County

Omaha, Nebraska – Residents of Douglas County have been alerted to exercise caution and maintain distance from raccoons and other stray animals. This urgent warning follows the discovery of a kitten infected with a strain of raccoon-based rabies, a variant not previously identified in the Omaha region.

A concerning fact is that at least ten individuals reportedly had direct contact with the infected feline. Fortunately, these individuals promptly commenced medical treatment and, as of now, show no adverse health conditions, as reported by the Douglas County Health Department.

Containment Efforts Ramp Up

To tackle the potential threat and ascertain that no further cases of rabies are lurking in the vicinity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has initiated a comprehensive action plan. Their strategy includes trapping, systematically testing, and vaccinating wildlife within a targeted geographical span.

Delving into specifics, the health department has zeroed in on a three-mile radius from the location where the cat was originally found. This containment zone encompasses almost the entirety of eastern Omaha. For those familiar with the region, the delineated zone stretches from 72nd Street, marked by F Street to the south and Fort Street to the north, extending eastwards up to the Missouri River. In the upcoming weeks, residents residing in this designated area can anticipate encounters with federal agriculture personnel.

While the precise mode of transmission remains elusive, the undeniable fact is that the kitten was infected with the raccoon strain of rabies. The situation has triggered a meticulous contact tracing process, with officials revealing that at least ten people interacted with the affected cat.

Lindsay Huse, the Douglas County health director, implored the public’s assistance during this crisis. She urged citizens to be vigilant and promptly report sightings of stray animals, especially those displaying erratic or unusual behaviors such as heightened aggression, confusion, excessive timidity, or drooling. Huse emphasized the importance of getting pets vaccinated.

Furthermore, inhabitants of the targeted zone might soon witness USDA officials approaching their homes or receive official correspondence requesting permission to install traps. With the gravity of the situation at hand, the health department fervently requests the public’s cooperation, hinting that if the issue persists, the targeted area might undergo expansion.

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