The Humane Society encourages everyone to have their pets inoculated against rabies, spokeswoman Katherine Cooker said Friday afternoon.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals. It can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected animal or contact with its saliva.
The cat involved in Sunday's attack was picked up by an animal control officer Wednesday. Health officials said they believe the cat was part of a larger colony of feral cats living in the area.
The Humane Society is "very concerned" about the situation and has set out no-kill traps in the area, Cooker said.
Health Department officials do not know whether more cats will be tested. They are not inclined to test animals unless doing so could result in taking action to protect people, MacRae said.
Rabies is a serious problem in the community, and has been for years, MacRae said Friday afternoon.
In 1983, raccoons tested positive for the disease, MacRae said. For decades before that, the only animals in the area that tested positive for rabies were bats, he said.
Raccoons seem to be the main carriers of rabies, but occasionally the disease crosses over to other species, MacRae said.
Records available at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Web site show that in 2007, 19 cats in the state tested positive for rabies. Only one of those cats was from Washington County.
In that same year, Washington County had 20 confirmed cases of rabies, 15 of them in raccoons.
For more information on rabies, go to the Washington County Health Department Web site at www.washhealth.org. Under Hot Topics, click on Rabies Prevention.