Owners urged to vaccinate pets against rabies after cats test positive

CHICAGO -- Cook County Animal Control officials are telling residents to vaccinate their pets against rabies after some cats tested positive for the disease.

The administrator of Cook County Animal & Rabies Control issued a rabies warning for Cook County Tuesday after two outdoor cats from nearby counties tested positive. If you haven't already done so, you should get your cat or dog vaccinated.

Ogle County, found southwest of Rockford, is close enough to raise a red flag in Cook County.  The September discovery of two rabid outdoor cats, one in Ogle County and the other in nearby Missouri, could very well mean there are other infected cats close to home.

We already know rabies is here in Cook County based on testing done of bats. 20 bats tested positive for rabies so far this year, compared to 23 last year. But although Brown Bats can be found in every corner of Cook County, there's no evidence yet that a cat in Cook County has contracted the virus. Cook County is working with the collar counties and the Illinois Department of Public Health to test feral cats.

But here are warning signs to look out for that can be subtle in the beginning:

  • Slightly wobbly walk
  • Appear to be blind
  • Changes in vocal sounds
  • Loss of appetite
  • Acting extra lethargic and sleepy.