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Kittens Test Positive for Rabies in Henry County, Georgia

I can't imagine anything more heartbreaking than adding a new pet to my home, falling head over heels in love and then finding out, they have a disease that will immediately sentence them to death. But that's what is happening in McDonough, Georgia.

It started when a woman found and took in a stray cat. To her surprise, the cat she took in had four kittens and she attempted to place each of them, and the mother cat, in homes. The four kittens and a mother were given away outside of the Walmart store on Willow Drive in McDonough in late August. After adopting a kitten, one man elected to see his veterinarian and was dismayed to find out the kitten was infected with the deadly rabies virus. He got those results on September 19th and Henry County officials have scrambled to located the remainder of that litter. Thus far, three kittens have been located along with the mother, and all have been infected with the deadly rabies virus.

Vince Farah, the spokesman for Henry County Animal Control, has stressed that the persons with the remaining kitten needs to come forward as soon as possible. They are also looking for the two women who originally gave the kittens away. They are not in trouble, but just contain information that may be helpful in establishing where this originated. Based on the testing, the odds are in the 99th percentile that the remaining kitten is also infected with rabies. Henry County Animal Control is open from 9 am – 4:30 pm Monday through Friday and from 8 am to 12 pm on Saturday. Vince can be reached at 770-288-7387.

Rabies is a deadly disease that is ultimately fatal. Rabies is a viral disease that infects the central nervous system and is zoonotic – meaning that it can be transmitted from humans to animals. The actual time between infection and when you get sick can be as short as 10 days and as long as 7 years. An infected animal has the rabies virus in its saliva and can transmit it to a person through a bite. In isolated cases, an animal has spread the virus when its saliva comes in contact with a person's mucous membranes (moist skin surfaces, like the mouth or inner eyelids) or broken skin such as a cut, scratch, bruise, or open wound. Once bitten, rabies spreads into surrounding muscle then travels up nerves to the brain. Once the virus has reached the brain, the infection is fatal in nearly all cases.

If you or your child is bitten by an animal, it is important to immediately wash the bite area with soap and water and proceed to the nearest emergency room. From there you will need to call animal control authorities and establish vaccination status of the animal that bit. If the animal is wild or unknown, it's especially important to seek medical attention.

Henry County Animal Control has asked that anyone who came in contact with any of the cats come forward immediately.

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