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Rabid cat attacks pet owners in Gainesville

POSTED: February 17, 2009 11:57 p.m.

Two Gainesville residents will have to undergo preventive rabies treatment after being bitten last week by a rabid cat.

Mike Ledford, director of Hall County Animal Control, said the incident occurred Feb. 11 off Thompson Bridge Road. “It was within the Gainesville city limits, just south of the bridge,” he said.

He said a man and a woman were taking their pet cat to a veterinarian because it appeared to be ill. As they were handling the cat, it bit and scratched them. Ledford said the vet recommended euthanizing the cat and having it tested for rabies.

The remains were shipped Thursday to the Georgia Public Health Lab in Decatur. On Tuesday, the results came back positive for rabies.

“The people will be starting post-exposure treatment (a series of injections), and they should be fine,” he said.

Ledford said the cat, which was unvaccinated, was allowed to roam outdoors and must have come into contact with an infected wild animal at some point.

He couldn’t recall the last time Hall County had a case of rabies in a domestic animal. Last year there were a record 43 confirmed cases in Hall, but all of them occurred in wild animals.

The incident marked the third case of rabies so far this year.

Ledford said the most recent case highlights the importance of having all cats and dogs vaccinated against rabies. Unvaccinated pets put human health at risk, and Georgia law requires an animal exposed to rabies to be either euthanized or placed into strict six-month quarantine at the owner’s expense.

Anyone who notices an animal behaving abnormally should call Animal Control at 770-531-6830.



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