CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WSAV) – A cat from an Isle of Hope home has tested positive for rabies, according to the Chatham County Health Department.

The cat was a former stray, recently adopted into a home on LaRoche Avenue. The new owners were uncertain about its vaccination history.

The health department says the owners took the cat to a local veterinarian clinic for treatment of an unrelated condition, where the cat did not survive and subsequently tested positive for rabies.

The health department says it has notified the family members and animal care providers who had contact with the cat, advising them to talk with a doctor about possible post-exposure rabies treatment.

It is not known how the cat became infected with rabies.

The health department is reminding the community of the importance of vaccinating newly adopted animals with no vaccine records. Below is other advice to avoid rabies.

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
  • Make sure pets receive proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines after 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster shot within one year and vaccination every 1-3 years depending on veterinary recommendation and vaccine used.
  • 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 include change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies, foaming at the mouth and paralysis.

If an animal bites you, seek medical care and contact Chatham County Animal Services at 912-652-6575.