Spalding County Environmental Health Manager Kelly Andrews said the cat was found in the area of Maplewood Drive in Griffin.
The cat bit someone before it died, but officials noted it was in poor health prior to its death. The individual bitten was advised to begin treatment for exposure to rabies and that person is complying.
According to public health officials, no other residents are believed to have had contact with the animal. However, it is possible other animals in the area may have been exposed to rabies.
All residents are encouraged to take precautions to protect their families and pets against rabies by learning the signs of rabies and vaccinating pets.
People are urged to stay away from from wild or stray animals that appear to appear to unafraid of humans and those that exhibit behaviors that are unusual of their character.
“If you notice a wild nocturnal animal moving about in the daytime and the animal appears to show no fear of people or the animal seems to behave in a sick or abnormal way, the animal may be infected with rabies,” said Hayla Hall, public information officer for the Georgia Department of Public Health District 4.
“People should avoid the animal and report it to the local health department or animal control,” said Hall.
Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals that is most often spread through the bite of an animal that is infected. Rabies infects the central nervous system, causing encephalopathy and ultimately death.
Early symptoms include fever and headache. As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms appear including insomnia, confusion, hallucinations, slight or partial paralysis, hyper salivation and/or difficulty swallowing,
Treatment and prevention practices for rabies are almost 100 percent effective when initiated promptly. Please report any bite, scratch or other contact with a wild animal to your local environmental health office, Andrews said.
“It is important to remember that although rabies occurs more often in wildlife, domestic animals like the family dog or cat can become infected as well.” Andrews said. “I strongly encourage owners to have all pets vaccinated to prevent rabies.”
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of rabies cases occur in wild animals such as raccons, skunks, foxes and bats.
For more information on rabies please contact the local animal control office, county environmental health office of visit the Georgia Division of Public Health website at www.health.state.ga.us or the CDC at www.cdc.gov.