Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement and Gwinnett Health Department officials are advising residents to use caution and avoid animals behaving in unusual ways after a cat tested positive for the rabies virus on April 27.
Two adults were attacked by the cat in the East Crogan Street/Buford Drive area in Lawrenceville on April 26. The cat was contained by the City of Lawrenceville Police Department and taken to Gwinnett Animal Welfare and Enforcement’s facility.
Foxes, raccoons and other wild animals carry diseases like rabies that can spread to people and pets through a bite or scratch.
All pet owners should ensure that their pets are current on the rabies vaccination. According to the National Association of State Health Veterinarians, unvaccinated dogs and cats exposed to a rabid animal must be quarantined for four months and vaccinated one month prior to being released.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rabies virus attacks the central nervous system and is almost always fatal in humans, if untreated.
Early symptoms of rabies in people include fever, headache and general weakness or discomfort.
If you or your child have been bitten or scratched by any stray animals or an animal that is suspected to have rabies, preventive treatment for rabies is necessary. If you believe you have been exposed, immediately seek medical care and let them know you were exposed. Also, contact the Gwinnett County Health Department at 770-339-4260 and ask for the epidemiologist on call.
To report the animal and have it picked up, please call the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Bite Office at 770-339-3200 ext. 5576; after hours, contact Dispatch non-emergency at 770-513-5700.
The following tips may help you protect yourself and your family from rabies:
- Make sure your pets get their rabies shots regularly.
- Keep your pets on your property.
- Do not leave garbage or pet food outside. Food left out may attract wild or stray animals.
- Report any animal acting unusual to Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement. They may act aggressively, avoid food and water, foam at the mouth, have trouble moving or move in a stiff, odd way. Stay away from any unknown animals, especially wildlife.
- Stay away from wild, sick, hurt or dead animals. Do not pick up or move sick or hurt animals.
- Do not keep wild animals like raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes as pets. It is dangerous and illegal.
- Teach your children not to go near, tease or play with wild animals or strange dogs and cats.