People, pets treated for rabies exposure after kitten, raccoons confirmed with disease

When visiting Lake Lanier, officials say, watch out for unfamiliar animals acting strangely after a raccoon in the area tested positive for rabies. AJC FILE/U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

A kitten and two raccoons have tested positive for rabies in Cobb and Douglas counties and some people and pets were exposed to the animals.

The Cobb and Douglas Public Health Department said Thursday that tests confirm all three animals — one kitten and raccoon in Cobb and another raccoon in Douglas — were all carrying the virus.

The kitten was found by a couple in the 300 block of Baskin Drive in Marietta on Jan. 15, according to Cobb County spokesman Ross Cavitt. The kitten scratched the husband and wife, who took the animal to a veterinary clinic where it also bit two technicians, Cavitt said.

On Jan. 21, a raccoon attacked a family dog in the 3700 block of Tommy Drive in Powder Springs.

Cavitt said the dog was current on its rabies vaccination, but there was possible exposure to the family “because the husband killed the raccoon and there was saliva and blood from the raccoon on the dog.”

In Douglas County, spokesman Rick Martin said a raccoon tested positive after attacking a dog Jan. 16 in the area of Bomar and Pope roads. The dog that was attacked, as well as another dog who may have been exposed, are under a 45-day quarantine.

Valerie Crow, spokeswoman with the Cobb & Douglas Public Health Department, said humans exposed to the virus have received treatment. Treatment typically includes the human rabies immune globin shot and rabies vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Animals and humans can get the virus if they are bitten or scratched by an infected animal. The virus, which affects the central nervous system, is “nearly 100% fatal without proper care following exposure,” the department said. “Because survival is so rare following clinical signs of the virus, individuals exposed to or suspecting exposure from an animal bite should receive immediate medical attention to assess the need for vaccination and report the exposure to local animal control,” the health department said.

Health department officials encourage residents to take the following steps to reduce their chances of coming in contact with a rabid animal:

•Vaccinate all dogs, cats and ferrets against rabies. You should also consider vaccinating livestock and horses, and other animals that have frequent contact with humans.

•Pet owners should not allow animals to roam free to reduce their chances of catching rabies; spaying or neutering your pet also cuts down on chances of animals roaming.

•Do not feed pets outdoors since empty bowls and stray food could attract wild animals.

•Keep garages securely covered.

•Avoid keeping wild animals like bats, raccoons, or foxes as pets.

•Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals.

•Report wild animals acting aggressively and any animal bites to animal control officers. Cobb residents call 770-499-4136 and Douglas residents can dial 770-942-5961.

You can learn more about rabies by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website on rabies or the Department of Public Health's website.

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