Rabid stray cat bites two Murray Co residents - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Rabid stray cat bites two Murray Co residents

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CHATSWORTH, GA (WRCB) - North Georgia health officials are warning residents in one Murray County neighborhood that they may have been exposed to the potentially deadly rabies virus. Two people are undergoing rabies treatment as a precaution after they were bitten and scratched by the same stray cat.

Health officials say the stray cat was a regular visitor at some homes along Old Federal Road South in Chatsworth. But, last week it bit and scratched two different people. Test results have come back showing the cat was infected with rabies.

Rabid cat warnings are posted on mailboxes up and down Old Federal Road South in Chatsworth.

"I'm concerned about it for my own animals," resident Karen Coulter said.

Neighbors say stray cats are a common sight in this area, but were surprised to learn two neighbors are undergoing post-rabies exposure treatment after they were bitten and scratched by a black and white stray cat that tested positive for rabies this week.

Officials with the North Georgia Health District say there were five other unvaccinated cats in the same area of the 5700 block of Old Federal Road South. They'll be put down.

"Who knows how many animals or cats there are running loose out there, and it's a big problem because you can't catch them and vaccinate them," Coulter said.

Coulter also volunteers for the Murray County Animal Shelter and the Murray County Humane Society, so she's doing her part to help keep the disease from spreading more.

"We've been working this morning to put together a rabies only vaccination clinic here on this street as an emergency stop gap measure," Coulter said.

Rabies is common in North Georgia, because its highly populated with the animals most likely to carry it-- raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and skunks. That's why the USDA has ramped up its fight against the disease by dropping bait from planes, laced with the rabies vaccine. CDC research shows in pets, cats are now more likely to carry it than dogs.

"For it spreading up and down and with so many feral cats, how you do stop it," Coulter said.

Any mammal can get rabies, which causes horrible symptoms as the virus attacks the nervous system. It has the highest death rate of any conventional infectious disease. The good news is there is life-saving treatment if you get it soon after exposure, like the residents in this case.

Officials with Murray County Environmental Health Office are asking anyone who thinks they or their pet were bitten or scratched by the rabid cat in the last month, to call them at (706) 695-0266, ext. 8

They want to remind everyone not to touch stray animals, even if they appear healthy, like this one did.

EMERGENCY RABIES CLINIC HOSTED BY THE MURRAY COUNTY HUMANE SOCIETY:

SATURDAY, JANUARY 4TH
10 am-3 pm

1-YEAR RABIES SHOTS ONLY $10

5599 OLD FEDERAL RD SOUTH (SAMPLER HOMEPLACE)

CALL (706) 264-7739 FOR MORE INFORMATION

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