Cat attack leads residents, health officials to check animal for possible rabies
By Matthew Burgoyne
Two Morgan County residents attacked by a cat on Sunday, March 2 are relieved to find out it tested negative for rabies. The cat was tested for rabies after it had been euthanized this week. Fortunately, the results were negative, but the reason for the cat’s behavior is still in question. According to Todd Jones, Environmental Health District Director for the Northeast Health District, there have been no positive rabies cases in Morgan County since 2006. In 2006, five animals were submitted for testing and all were negative. From January to October of 2007, eight animals were submitted for rabies testing and none were positive. For the state of Georgia in 2007, 274 rabid animals were reported with a majority of those being raccoons, according to Lynn Beckmann, Head of Epidemiology for the Northeast Health District. Though Rabies is extremely fatal, it can be easily avoided. “An ounce of prevention is extraordinarily worth it,” Beckmann said. The best way to prevent the spread of rabies is to vaccinate your pets. “There is no excuse to not vaccinate your animal,” Beckmann said. The rabies vaccine has to be administered by a veterinarian. It is also relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of the treatment for the disease. If a domestic animal is suspected of having contact with rabies, the owner can opt to have it observed for 10 days.
The rabies virus sheds within five days, so the 10 day observation period offers enough time to see if the animal had rabies. If an animal had rabies, it would not live past the five day mark. Jones offered a few easy tips to avoid having contact with rabies.
Avoid wild animals. If you see animals acting out of the ordinary, call Animal Control. Ensure that any pet, cat, dogs, horses, ferrets, is current on their rabies vaccination. Report all incidents of animal bites to the Health Department and Animal Control immediately.
The two Morgan County residents that were attacked declined to comment, but it is safe to say they are glad to hear the cat was not a rabid attacker.