Man bitten by rabid cat in North Druid Hills neighborhood

A stray cat captured on Willow Lake Drive that bit a man multiple times later tested positive for rabies, stated officials.

The incident occurred on Nov. 28 in North Druid Hills close to Merry Hills and the Elwyn John Wildlife Sanctuary.

According to officials, a man (whose identity was not released at press time) was bitten by the cat on his chin and hand as he put the animal into a pet carrier.

“Rabies is a disease that affects the brain and it is usually passed from animal to animal, but can be passed from animals to people,” stated officials with DeKalb County Animal Control. “The virus is spread through saliva, usually from a bite of an animal that has the disease.”

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “animals with rabies may show a variety of signs, including fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, paralysis, and seizures. Aggressive behavior is common, but rabid animals may also be uncharacteristically affectionate. Rabid wild animals may lose their natural fear of humans, and display unusual behavior; for example, an animal that is usually only seen at night may be seen wandering in the daytime.”

There is no treatment once the clinical signs of rabies appear, stated the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website.

People who are exposed to rabies through an animal bite can be treated with “vaccines that provide immunity to rabies when administered soon after an exposure,” according to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The vaccines must be administered before symptoms of the disease are present to be effective, stated officials.

This is the third rabies case to be reported in DeKalb County this year; in April, officials with DeKalb County Animal Control said a stray chihuahua that was picked up in the Constitution Road area later tested positive for rabies, and in September, animal control officials said a bat captured in Stone Mountain tested positive for rabies.

“Georgia is a rabies endemic state, and the virus is present all year long,” said officials with DeKalb County Animal Control. “It is not unusual for the county to report several rabies cases each year.”

Because a person was bitten during the Nov. 28 incident, officials said they will be conducting wild animal trapping in the area.

Residents should make sure pets are up to date for preventative vaccination through their veterinarian and should eliminate outdoor feeding stations and access to garbage cans, said officials. Additionally, residents are advised to watch pets and contact DeKalb County Animal Control if unusual behavior occurs.

“Vaccinations are effective in protecting humans and pets from the virus,” stated officials. “Residents are responsible for vaccinating pets every year and registering the tag with DeKalb County Animal Control.”

For more information or to report any animal bite, contact DeKalb County Animal Control at 404-294-2996, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or 404-294-2519 after hours.

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