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Rabies Diagnosed in Southern Alberta Cat Apr 9, 2010

Case Summary:

On April 5th, a 3.5 year old, neutered male, unvaccinated, indoor/outdoor (tame and regularly handled) cat was brought in for an examination to the Cremona Veterinary Clinic. He was ADR, off food for the past 2 days, and presented with signs of mild, periodic hind limb plantigrade stance, severe drooling, mild fever, head twitching, and markedly increased respiratory effort. He was responsive, but it was noted that he was hypersensitive to stimulus. He had no wounds or bite marks on him, and he had not bitten any people. Differentials included FIP, acute diaphragmatic hernia, meningitis (viral vs bacterial), DKA, toxin ingestion, and (last on our list!) Rabies. Chest rads were performed (normal), and blood was drawn and sent to the lab. The cat was hospitalized overnight for observation and supportive therapy. In the morning, the cat was exhibiting progressing neurological signs. He started to seizure periodically, and in between seizures, his head and ears quivered uncontrollably. The owner opted for euthanasia at this time, and agreed to allow us to do a post mortem examination (we found nothing diagnostic). The blood results were essentially normal except for an elevated CPK.

Results were negative for Diabetes, FeLV, FIV, and FIP. We decided to have the head tested for Rabies, and the CFIA collected the sample on April 7th. We were notified Friday, April 9th that the cat had tested positive (IFA test) for Rabies.


This cat was from a farm about 30km north of Cochrane, and about 15 km west of Highway 22. This area is about 40 minutes NW of Calgary. There were no clues in this case as to what type of animal infected this cat, but brown bats have been noted in this region, as well as skunks, foxes, and coyotes. This was a pet cat that was mainly indoors, but was allowed outside as well.

Who does what?

The CFIA is responsible for the animal health side of things. The pets on this farm have been quarantined (must not go off of their farm) for 45 days. The owners do not have to have special housing or handling procedures for them. They must report any signs of illness or abnormal behaviour. The CFIA did not quarantine the horses or cattle

on this farm. They ordered that all the pets on this farm get a rabies vaccination asap at the owner.s expense (regardless of their previous vaccine status).

The Department of Communicable Diseases is responsible for directing the human side of things. If you have any clients or staff that have been bitten by wildlife or any animal with unknown vaccine status, or if you get a positive rabies case in your area, you need to report it by calling Health Link, and they will put you through to the Dept. of

Communicable Diseases in your area. The CFIA also reports it, but Communicable Diseases told me that they rely more on the front-line veterinarians for quicker reporting to them. Once the health system is made aware of the situation, they will contact you and the client involved to discuss the human risks, and protocols for post-exposure vaccinations.

Posted 20 April 2010, Shaw Pet & Equine Hospitals


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1782 Stelly's Cross Road
Saanichton, BC V8M 1S8
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