ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – A feral cat on the south end of St. Simons Island tested positive for rabies after acting aggressively toward a family dog on Tuesday, according to the Glynn County Health Department. The dog is up to date on rabies vaccinations and was taken to a local veterinarian for treatment.
The Glynn County Environmental Health team is advising those who may have had contact with the cat to get in touch with their health care providers for further guidance.
Several species of wild animals that are native to coastal Georgia, including raccoons, foxes, and bats, can carry rabies, which is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals.
According to the Mayo Clinic, once a rabies infection is established, there is no effective treatment. So it is important animals stay up-to-date on vaccinations and contact with potentially infected animals is avoided.
The Glynn County Environmental Health office offers these tips to protect you and your family from rabies:
- Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
- Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations and boosters as advised by your veterinarian.
- Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
- Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.
Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis.
If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Glynn County Animal Control at 912-554-7500 and the Glynn County Environmental Health office at 912-279-2940.