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Would you consider this to be good for public health?

Take a look at what is happening in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ:

On September 16th, 2008, Point Pleasant Beach (PPB) passed an ordinance legalizing TNR. About one year later, a rabies outbreak occurred.

To view the ordinance that passed click below:

For a review of the ordinance statements click here.

According to an article in The Star Ledger August 29th, 2009 two children were attacked by cats and a rabid cat was captured after attacking a teenager.

To view one of the cat attacks at a PPB resort click below. Warning! A child was attacked and screaming in this video.

PPB plans to handle the rabies outbreak (which included infected raccoons and cats) by capturing stray cats, placing them in cages in rented climate-controlled trailers for 60 days, euthanizing infected cats, and returning others to colonies.

Does this make sense to you?

Full story here:

We don't think this is prudent and we'll tell you why.

Raccoons top the list, but cats are the leading carriers of rabies by far among domestic animals.

About 80 percent of rabies shots administered to humans result from contact with feral or stray cats. This fact and other pertinent information can be found in the September-October 2009 Audubon magazine Incite article: Felines by Ted Williams from Audubon September-October 2009.pdf

The cost of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is generally more than $1,000. This could place an excessive financial burden on public health departments and insurance providers.

According to the NJ Department of Health cats that have been free-roaming may have been exposed to rabies and could develop the disease up to five or six months later. Rabies vaccination of a cat that is incubating the disease will NOT prevent it from developing rabies. How is holding cats for 60 days going to help?

The article said "infected cats will be killed." Do they mean symptomatic cats? A rabies diagnostic test requires brain tissue from animals suspected of being rabid. The test can only be performed post-mortem.

What happens after 60 days if some of the feral cats should tame down? Will they find them homes or re-abandon them outdoors in these 'managed' colonies?

Will the borough round up the cats again when their vaccine expires? Feral cats are very hard to re-trap for additional care.

What message are we sending to the public about the value of cats if we condone outdoor cat colonies? Cats will continue to be dumped at managed colonies because someone will 'take care of them'.

But, wait! There is more…

According to the Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics Monthly Summary for September 2009, the local folks caring for the managed colonies "…had no records on the cats in the feral cat program being vaccinated against rabies…" The report also states that, "…there were 2 known incidents where kids were bitten by stray cats and undergoing post-exposure-prophylaxis (PEP) - one was staying at a motel when it happened and now the town and many individuals are being sued".

The report also stated that, "Ocean Co HD is trying to work with the local municipalities, but the locals are committed to the feral cat colony program and don't want to listen to the county health department".

Shouldn't public health and welfare be the priority?

For the full report click here.

But, wait! There is still more…

Also in the report and related to feral cats is the death of a young black bear found in a lethargic state in West Milford, NJ. The bear was captured by an Animal Control Officer and died overnight in an animal carrier. The necropsy and histopathology revealed that the bear succumbed to toxoplasmosis of the lungs and brain.

According to this monthly summary, this is the first such occurrence in bears although 40% have been exposed based on sero-surveys by the bear project and East Stroudsburg University. A gray squirrel die-off of pulmonary toxoplasmosis has also been diagnosed in the past in NJ. Since the Toxoplasma gondii parasite is harbored in the intestine of cats, feral cat colonies may enhance the prevalence of toxoplasmosis in wildlife. Disease hazards to wildlife are one of several reasons cited by the Wildlife Disease Association in its resolution opposing feral cat colonies.

View the full report at the link above.

For the Resolution on Feral Cats from the Wildlife Disease Association click here.

Cat owners click here for information about toxoplasmosis.

For more information about the prevention of congenital toxoplasmosis click here.

According to the CDC, there are an estimated 1.5 million new Toxoplasma infections and 400-4,000 cases of congenital toxoplasmosis in the U.S. each year. 1.26 million persons in this country have ocular involvement due to toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is the third leading cause of deaths due to food-borne illnesses (375+ deaths).

The domestic cat is the definitive host. Click here for a flow chart from the CDC.

Cats should not be free-roaming for so many reasons! They can impact public health through disease transmission, wildlife through predation and disease transmission, and quality of life. The outdoors is not safe for cats and property owners may not want managed cat colonies in their communities. Talk to your municipal officials today.

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