Most domestic cats are required by law to be vaccinated for rabies, but in the woods just off of Brewster Bridge Road in Elkton, one stray cat has tested positive and another case is suspected prompting a warning issued throughout the neighborhood.
"It's concerning because we have pets that stay outside a lot and my kids are out here a lot," said Sheri Wood.
Angie Scramlin of the Cecil County Health Department says the first sign of a possible outbreak came about three weeks ago.
"A person come into the hospital. They had been exposed to a stray cat that really attacked them fairly aggressively. I mean cats can be nasty, but this one really attacked them---biting, clawing and wouldn't let go,” said Scramlin, “So it was suspect, but the cat ran off. They weren't able to trap it and test it."
The victim had to start a series of shots as a precaution against the infectious viral disease when a second cat showed up in their yard weeks later acting strangely.
"In this case, the cat was screaming and screaming loudly and kind of going in circles," said Scramlin.
This time animal services tracked down the animal and it tested positive for rabies.
"It was a small, white cat about 10 to 12 pounds. It had one blue eye so it's not your normal calico tabby out there. It kind of was unique enough that if people recognize that they saw that cat in the 10 days prior to that testing last Friday, we want them to come forward," added Scramlin.
They're also encouraging people in the community to keep a watchful eye on their animals until the stray cats can be rounded up and checked for any further signs of infection.
"They come into our yard. They definitely come into our yard,” said Wood, “Our dogs usually chase them out, but sometimes our dogs are inside and the cats will come in."
This is Cecil County's third reported case of rabies this year.
In January, a stray cat in Port Deposit tested positive and in May, a raccoon did as well in Chesapeake City.
Elkton residents who may have been exposed to the rabid cat should contact their physician or Cecil County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Program at 410-996-5100.