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CDC, USDA to start trapping, testing and vaccinating wildlife in Omaha area after stray kitten found with rabies

By Cal Larsen

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    DOUGLAS COUNTY, Neb. (KETV) — Douglas County residents are being told to stay away from raccoons and other stray animals.

The warning comes after a kitten was found with a raccoon-based rabies strain that isn’t native to Omaha area.

Ten people came in contact with the cat, all of whom began treatment and are doing fine, according to the Douglas County Health Department.

In response to the discovery, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and United States Department of Agriculture will begin trapping, testing and vaccinating wildlife in a targeted area to make sure no more rabies cases are discovered.

The health department is looking at a three-mile radius from where the cat was living, including almost all of eastern Omaha.

The zone runs from 72nd Street between F Street on the south and Fort Street on the north, all the way east to the Missouri River. Officials say if you live in this area, you can expect to see federal agriculture in the coming weeks.

It’s not exactly clear how the cat contracted rabies, experts just know the cat had the raccoon strain.

Officials said at least 10 people had contact with the cat, and contact tracing is underway.

They issued an appeal for help from the public on Monday.

“Report any stray animals regardless of behavior or any wildlife that is acting unusual. This could mean more aggressive, looking confused, exceptionally timid or if they’re drooling. Keep an eye on those pets, please get them vaccinated,” Lindsay Huse, Douglas County health director, said.

People in the targeted area could start seeing officials with the USDA knocking on their door, or receive letters asking to set up traps.

The health department is asking people cooperate, and said if this continues, the target area could expand.

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