Rabid kitten at Starbucks

Cherokee health officials said Friday an unknown number of people may have come in contact with a kitten that tested positive for rabies this week.

Authorities say the gray-striped kitten with medium-length fur was at a Starbucks at 1353 Riverstone Parkway in Canton from Feb. 22 through March 1, and a number of people may have handled it.

A woman who picked up the animal March 1 took it to her Canton home, where others handled it, authorities said in an alert issued Friday.

The next day, health officials said, the woman took the kitten to work at a Canton veterinarian office, where the kitten underwent tests for various feline ailments and the animal appeared to be healthy.

Authorities said the woman took the kitten back home, and the following day, March 3, a veterinarian took the kitten to her home in Lumpkin County.

The vet was bitten twice by the kitten after it was frightened by her dogs, officials said. The kitten still appeared to be fine until the next day, March 4, when the vet found the kitten dead.

The positive test results for rabies were reported Wednesday.

Cherokee health officials are still investigating the report of a package delivery carrier being attacked by a raccoon two months ago in the same area of where the kitten appeared in Canton. Authorities did not say whether they believe that animal was rabid.

Rabies is almost always deadly in humans who contract it and do not receive treatment, said authorities.

Persons exposed to the kitten will receive an immediate dose of immunoglobulin and then a series of rabies shots over a period of 14 days, authorities said in a release.

People who fear they may have come in contact with the kitten should contact the Cherokee County Environmental Health Office at (770) 479-0444.