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Two North GA residents being treated for rabies after being bitten by cat

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Two North Georgia women are being treated for rabies after being bitten by a rabid cat. The two Dawnville-area women should be just fine, but health officials have a warning for those living in the area this afternoon.

Rabies control officers spent the day trapping and testing stray cats in a Dawnville neighborhood. So far, two have shown signs of rabies. Health officials are asking those living nearby to keep kids and pets away from any roaming animals.

"There's something seriously going on here and people need to be aware of it," said David Hedden, Whitfield County Rabies Control Officer. 

Whitfield County Rabies Control Officer, David Hedden is warning residents about the rabies outbreak.

A rabid cat bit two women last week near Mark Brown Road. One woman found the cat on her porch, the other was attempting to feed it. 

The two women are under close watch and receiving a series of shots. 

"I think it's becoming an epidemic you know this is actually the fifth case of rabies in Whitfield County and most of them are within the same area, not to far from here was the two skunks that tested positive for rabies," said Hedden.

Health officials say it started with four infected skunks, it was then detected in raccoons and bitten dogs. 

Director of Environmental Health, Raymond King says the disease is 99.9% fatal without preventative treatment. Once a person starts showing symptoms, it's too late. 

"Rabies is a horrible way to die, it is a brain infection and inflammation,people suffer horribly if they actually get the disease," said King. 

The rabid cat that bit two neighbors also attacked the responding police officer. Hedden tells Channel 3,  the officer beat it away with his baton and a nearby rake. He said the cat kept charging at the officer until he killed it. 

Officials say it's best to stay away and call for help.

"Animals out in the day that you normally wouldn't see should be suspect," said King. "Animals behaving strangely or as though they were sick, animals that are aggressive, all of those signs should be considered possible signs of rabies."

Animal control officers have a big task ahead, there is only agency to cover all of Whitfield County. Health officials hope trapping stray animals will help.

They are also encouraging pet owners to make sure they are current on their rabies vaccinations. If you are bitten by an animal you're encouraged to seek treatment immediately. 

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