Posted: 6:04 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More cats tested after rabid kitten bites seven people

CANTON, Ga. —

Cherokee County officials are testing more cats and kittens for rabies, after an infected kitten bit seven people.

At least four cats have been tested so far, another remains in quarantine.

The testing comes after a stray kitten died of rabies last week. The kitten bit seven people, who are now undergoing rabies treatment.

Tuesday, Channel 2's Diana Davis talked to one of those victims, a veterinarian, who is undergoing treatment. Kate McDuffie said she has been in her profession for 22 years. She knows all the signs and symptoms, but said the stray cat that bit her didn't show
any of them.

"She was acting like any other feral cat. She was scared, but she was friendly," McDuffie told Davis. "She was just purring and rubbing on you," McDuffie said.

But it didn't take long for the behavior of the stray cat she was hoping to adopt to quickly change. The cat bit her badly on her two fingers, Davis said.

"My left index finger
,she just kind of got me all around the knuckle around that joint around the knuckle,then she latched on to the middle finger."

The cat died, after the state health lab confirmed it had rabies, Davis said.

The stray was discovered at a Canton Starbucks on Riverstone Parkway. Now,
McDuffie,and six others who played with the stray kitten, were bitten or scratched, are beingtreated for rabies with a series of shots. McDuffie said they are halfway through the end of their treatments and are doing fine.

Cherokee health officials now know the rabid kitten was just one in a colony of feral cats living in the woods, behind a shopping center. The dumpsters are adjacent to apartments with several kids, Davis said.

At least four cats have been sent to the state health lab for testing. Meanwhile, officials fear more people may have beenĀ 
infectedwith rabies. Anyone who believes they may have been exposed to the virus is asked to call the state health lab.

Rabies is commonly carried by raccoons, skunks and foxes. Health officials advise all household pets, including cats, dogs and ferrets to be vaccinated once a year.

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