Rabid kitten bites child in Marietta

Officer Jenny Murphy, a Marietta police spokeswoman, told the AJC that the family took in the stray about two months ago. The kitten became ill and bit a child, prompting the family to take the kitten to the veterinarian. A rabies test came back positive.

Now the entire family is receiving post-exposure rabies vaccination shots. And officials are looking for other strays in the area near Whitlock Avenue and McDonald Street. The rabid kitten was euthanized.

The rabies virus is transmitted through certain exposures to the saliva or nervous tissue from a rabid animal.

Without proper care following exposure, rabies is nearly always fatal, according to health officials.

They say all dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies. Pet owners should not let their pets roam free. Spaying or neutering your pet can reduce their tendencies to roam or fight, reducing the chance they'll be exposed to rabies.

In addition. officials recommend against feeding your pets outside. Even empty bowls can attract wild and stray animals.

In 2009, Cobb and Douglas counties had 15 animals test positive for rabies. Nationwide, raccoons are the most common animals found to be rabid, followed by skunks and bats.

If a person is bitten by an animal or potentially exposed to rabies by, say, handling a bat, he or she should wash any wounds thoroughly with soap and water, seek medical attention and report the  bite to the proper agency.

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