May 23, 2017

After Rabid Cat Attack, Safe Practices Vital

A local health department in Georgia is taking action following multiple attacks by a rabid cat.
By Kerry Lengyel
Following several attacks on both people and pets by a rabid cat last week in Norcross, Georgia, the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Division and Health Department are providing the public with a list safe practices to help protect them and their pets from rabies.
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data indicate that 59 rabid dogs and 272 rabid cats were reported in 2014 (the most recent data available). For cats, this was a 10% increase compared with the 247 cases reported in 2013.
 
Over 4 times more rabid cats were reported than rabid dogs in 2014, which may be due to the fact that cat owners are less likely to visit a veterinarian’s office for their pet’s vaccinations.
 
With the number still on the rise, it’s important for all pet owners to take certain precautions for both themselves and their pets, and veterinary practices are a prime source of education for pet owners.
 
First, instruct pet owners to make sure their pets have the most recent rabies vaccination. If an unvaccinated pet comes into contact with a rabid animal, the CDC says the pet may have to be quarantined for 6 months or euthanized. Pets have a higher chance of coming into contact with a rabid wild animal than humans do. Rabies can be transmitted from infected animals to humans, however, making the risk for rabies higher for pet owners and their families.
 
If a person is bitten by a rabid animal, the CDC says to immediately wash the wound with soap and water, visit your health care provider, and then contact animal control to capture the animal.
 
Each year, about 40,000 people receive post-exposure prophylaxis—the rabies prevention treatment—after coming in contact with a rabid animal. Without treatment, rabies infection in humans is nearly 100% fatal, making information about protection vital for everyone regardless of location.
 
The CDC advises pet owners to take the following precautions:
  • Visit your veterinarian with your pet on a regular basis, and keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs.
  • Maintain control of your pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision when outdoors.
  • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted animals that may not be cared for properly or vaccinated regularly.
  • Call animal control to remove all stray animals from your neighborhood because these animals may be unvaccinated.
  • Do not feed or water your pets outside, and keep your garbage securely covered. These items may attract wild or stray animals.
 
These safe practices are vital not only for those in Norcross but across the entire country.

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