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Cobb & Douglas Public Health Officials Encourage Vigilance in Rabies Prevention | Health

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Cobb & Douglas Public Health Officials Encourage Vigilance in Rabies Prevention

MARIETTA, GA -- In light of a recent confirmed case of rabies in the City of Marietta, Cobb & Douglas Public Health officials are encouraging individuals to take immediate steps to reduce contact with infected animals.

The case involved a stray kitten that came in contact with humans. The individuals who were exposed received medical attention. The infected animal was collected near McDonald Street and Whitlock Avenue and is believed to have been associated with several stray cats in the vicinity.

Although it may be tempting to take in or adopt unfamiliar animals, it is important to remember there may be risks involved.

"If a person is bitten by an animal or has a potential rabies exposure, like handling a cat, the individual should wash any wounds thoroughly with soap and water, seek medical attention and report the bite to the propery agency for rabies advice," said Jennifer Munoz, epidemiologist with Cobb & Douglas Public Health.

Rabies is caused by a virus that animals and humans can get through bites or scratches from infected wildlife. Although the majority of rabies cases occur in wildlife, most humans are exposed to the virus as a result of an encounter with an infected domestic animal. Keeping pets up to date on vaccinations is the best way to help prevent rabies in humans and domestic animals.

"Rabies can threaten all members of the family, including pets. For many people, pets are cherished and loved members of the family," said Munoz. "Speaking with a veterinarian about keeping current with vaccination not only helps to make sure they are free from rabies, but also reduces the risk of exposure for all family members."

Cobb & Douglas Public Health is offering a number of suggestions on what people can do to minimize the spread of rabies:

Rabies prevention starts with the animal owner.

* All dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies. Consider vaccinating valuable livestock and horses. Animals that have frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated.

* Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.

* Spaying or neutering your pets may reduce any tendency they might have to roam or fight, and thus reduce the chance that they will be exposed to rabies.

Reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife.

* Don't feed or water your pets outside. Even empty bowls will attract wild and stray animals.

* Keep your garbage securely covered.

* Wild animals such as raccoons, bats and foxes should not be kept as pets.

* Enjoy all wild animals from a distance and teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, even if they appear friendly.

* If you see a wild animal acting aggressively, report it to city or county animal control officials.

For help with animals testing, call Cobb County Animal Control at 770-499-4136 or Douglas County Animal Control at 770-942-5961.

Call Cobb & Douglas Public Health at 770-514-2432 and select option 7 for medical advice.

For more information about rabies prevention, visit the CDC website.

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