Dalton, GA – A Whitfield County woman was attacked on her front porch by a cat that has now tested positive for rabies.
On Tuesday, February 28, the cat bit and scratched the woman’s foot as she tried to shoo away the animal from her home in the Dawnville area of Dalton.
Whitfield County Animal Control was called and asked the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office to send an officer to the home. The cat became excessively aggressive with the responding officer, so he had to kill it. The officer was not exposed.
The cat was sent to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing and the positive results were provided to Whitfield County Environmental Health officials on Friday, March 3.
The woman has now begun post rabies exposure treatment, which consists of a series of shots over a two-week period.
Other cats that live on the premises were present at the time of the attack and are unvaccinated against rabies, but it is not yet known if they had any contact with the rabid cat.
Health officials continue to advise residents to make sure all pets are kept current on rabies vaccinations. All livestock that have regular human contact, such as horses, should also be vaccinated.
Officials warn the public to be wary of unfamiliar animals, wild or tame, that exhibit unusual behaviour. These type animals should be reported to animal control or the county environmental health office.
The public is also urged to report to them any attacks or bites by a stray or wild animal.
If bitten, thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water and seek immediate medical attention. If a pet is bitten, seek veterinary assistance for the animal right away. The health care provider and/or the veterinarian will need to know the following to assess the risk of rabies exposure:
The geographic location of the incident
The type of animal that was involved
How the exposure occurred (provoked or unprovoked)
The vaccination status of the animal
Whether the animal can be safely captured and tested for rabies
For more information about rabies and its prevention, contact the local county environmental health office or log on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/features/rabiessafefamily.