Pet cat without a current rabies vaccine exposes owners to virus

A 15-year-old, indoor pet cat that was not current on its rabies vaccination tested positive for rabies after biting its owner and exposing another person to the virus. Both people are being treated. The owner does not know how the cat contracted the disease.




DALTON, GA (WRCB) —  Two Whitfield County residents are now undergoing rabies treatments after exposure to a pet cat that the Georgia Public Health Laboratory has now confirmed as positive for rabies.

The 15-year old cat bit its owner and exposed the owner’s fiancée to the disease before it died. A test for rabies came back positive October 26, 2012.

The cat was reported to have had rabies vaccinations in the past but was not current with its vaccinations.

Due to the age of the animal and being kept indoors, the expected probability of rabies was considered small. The cat’s owner could not remember an incident when the cat may have been exposed to rabies.

Public health officials have gone on a door-to-door campaign in Dalton delivering rabies notices, since the area is well-populated.

Domestic dogs and cats typically become rabid within one to three months from exposure, longer incubation periods have been documented. In some cases,  humans have not developed rabies until several years after exposure.
Rabies is usually transmitted by exposure to the saliva of a rabid animal through a bite or scratch. Wild carnivores such as bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, bobcats and foxes serve as a reservoir for the disease virus and these wild animals can transmit it to domestic dogs, cats, livestock and people.

Bats are considered to be one of the primary conduits for rabies transmission to humans. Contact with bats should be avoided.

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