NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – A Newport News woman wants people to be warned: stay away from unfamiliar animals, no matter how cute they look.
On Tuesday, Kaitlyn Dominguez was bitten by a cat in the parking lot of her apartment complex. She’s already had 11 rabies shots. She’s not even sure if she has rabies, but the cat was not caught, so there’s no way to know if she was exposed or not. That’s why she wants people to be aware.
“It’s very, very scary for me,” said Dominguez. “As I bent down to try and get the cat off of me, it grabbed onto my arms, started biting me, scratching me, hissing at me,” she said.
The cat then climbed in her mother’s car, where Dominguez’s 9-month-old daughter and her adopted siblings were sitting. “It was very scary knowing that we had kids in the car and a cat that was acting funny, that was not even walking right,” said Dominguez. They couldn’t get the cat out of the car, so they drove to the animal shelter on Briarfield Road in Newport News with the cat sitting under one of the car seats. When they tried to get the cat out, it ran away.
Most of the marks have faded, but Dominguez was bitten on her leg, arm, and fingers. Because the cat escaped, she has no way of knowing whether or not she was exposed to rabies, which is fatal. That has her, and the Virginia Department of Health, concerned.
“If we can locate the cat, then we can confine it and observe it over a 10 day period from the time of the bite. And if the cat is alive after the 10 day period, then we know that at the time of the bite, the cat did not have rabies that it could pass on to the victim,” said Howard Masters, Environmental Health Supervisor with the Virginia Department of Health.
The possibility of having rabies is affecting Dominguez’s family. She couldn’t hold her daughter for days after the initial shots. “If I was in contact with rabies, I can’t let her be around that,” she said,
But as concerned as she is about her own health, she’s also worried about other kids in the area.
“I just want the kids out here in this neighborhood to be careful and not just walk up to a stray animal and think that they’re cute,” Dominguez said.
The Department of Health agrees with that message. “Respect them from a distance, observe them from a distance. Don’t get too close, too friendly to them. Don’t feed them. Don’t take them home, because you never know.”
Insurance is covering the cost of the shots for Dominguez. She has two more shots scheduled for next week.