“Hindsight’s 20/20,” Pregnant Henrico County woman bitten by cat with rabies, warns others

RICHMOND, VA (TERESAREPORTS) – A pregnant Henrico County woman was bitten by a cat that tested positive for rabies in February.

Richmond City health officials urged residents after the incident, to take precautions in order to reduce the risk of contracting rabies.

Kate MacKinnon is 38 weeks pregnant, and said she was bitten by a cat that tested positive for rabies last month.

“My stomach dropped,” she told TeresaReports. “I was just so mortified.”

MacKinnon said the only thing that seemed odd about the cat was that it was panting.

“Not your textbook rabies definition,” she said. “Obviously is was thirsty and there’s a lot of water around so that should’ve been a red flag. Rabies doesn’t always look frothy at the mouth and red eyes and going crazy,” she continued. “It looks like a regular old animal so just be careful out there.”

MacKinnon said the cat was friendly, and that she had often seen cats in the neighborhood so she didn’t think twice about helping the animal.

“It seemed to be injured and the sun was setting,” she explained. “I had to make a decision of ‘Am I going to leave this cat out?’ It’s supposed to snow tonight. Am I supposed to leave this cat out while it’s injured?” she said. “I called a neighbor and she came by and picked us both up and went to animal control, and it’s whenever I was picking it [the cat] up to put it in the car is when it bit me. I guess hindsight’s 20/20.”

Cat in Bryan Park tested positive for rabies

She said the cat bite did not draw blood, and figured she could clean the cut when she got home.

“This cat was half a mile back in Bryan Park so, in my mind, it was somebody’s nice house cat that had gotten out and was lost,” MacKinnon explained. “I [thought I] was maybe a warm place that night, and somebody could come get it the next day or something.”

MacKinnon said she was worried for both her unborn baby and her husband.

“I was terrified,” she said. “We were driving to the ER and were just thinking the worst, like oh my gosh will I need an emergency C-Section? We just didn’t know, and my sole concern was this child.”

MacKinnon is halfway through her vaccination treatment, and said the doctors told her she and her baby are in the clear.

“He’s not affected by the rabies,” MacKinnon said about her unborn son. “It’s a horrible situation, but I’m thankful we were the ones to take her [the cat] in and prevent her from biting anyone else,” she said. “If I were to go back I would’ve called animal control first instead of assuming it was someone’s pet cat that had gotten out.”

Richmond City Health District Public Information Manager, George Jones, told TeresaReports the cat was taken into custody Feb. 19 and was euthanized either the same day or within the next few days, which is standard procedure.

Residents are asked to report bites to the health department or animal control authorities, and give a description of the animal.

Health officials ask residents take the following steps to prevent exposure to rabies:

  • Don’t attract wild animals into your yard by leaving out pet food or uncontained garbage.
  • Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies and keep their shots up to date.
  • Don’t allow your pets to roam freely through the neighborhood; keep them on a leash when walking them.
  • Report stray animals to your local animal control agency.

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