Cat contracts rare rabies-like virus in Italy

WION Web Team
Rome, Italy Published: Jul 01, 2020, 10:11 PM(IST)

Cats Photograph:( AFP )

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Health authorities are currently looking at whether a colony of bats living in a tree near the family's home may have been the source of the virus. 

A housecat in Italy contracted a rare rabies-like virus and began biting its owners, following which public officials in the central commune of Arezzo called for better surveillance of the feline population.

The virus related to rabies has only been identified once before in 2002 in a bat in the Caucasus region.

A new ordinance has since been given out calling for cat owners and carers of feral cat colonies to immediately report any symptoms that could point to the so-called "lyssavirus".

It is unknown how the female two-year-old cat in the Tuscan municipality contracted the virus. Last month, the cat's owners reported that their pet had suddenly become aggressive and bit three members of the family. Concerned, they took her to a veterinarian, where she also attacked the vet. 

The cat died after being transferred to another clinic, where specialists had suspected a neurological problem. The virus was identified after part of the cat's brain was sent to a animal health institute in Padua.

Thirteen people who had handled the cat, including those bitten, have been administered an antibody treatment.

The new ordinance, in place until August 27, calls for any cats or dogs which have recently bitten people and who display suspicious symptoms such as biting, paralysis, or changes in temperament, must be put under quarantine for 10 days.

Health authorities are currently looking at whether a colony of bats living in a tree near the family's home may have been the source of the virus. 
 

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