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An oral rabies vaccine being distributed in Signal Mountain to prevent the spread of the disease in wild raccoons, coyotes and foxes.

Health officials in Gilmer County, Georgia, are warning residents about a possible rabies threat.

On Monday, a resident near the intersection of Board Town Road and Chatsworth Highway picked up a cat after finding it in their carport. The cat was behaving sickly and dragging its back legs, according to a news release.

Gilmer County Environmental Health officials were notified and sent the cat to the Georgia Department of Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing Tuesday. The lab confirmed the animal was positive for rabies.

Because the resident who handled the cat was not bitten or scratched, no treatment was required, and no other human exposure is known, at this time, the release states. But, environmental health staff will be canvassing that area Thursday, distributing notices to residents. 

Residents are also being warned that several stray cats are in that area should be avoided due to the high risk of rabies exposure. All residents are urged to avoid wild or feral animals and to maintain rabies vaccinations in pets. If a pet receives an initial one-year vaccine, it can receive a three-year rabies vaccination the following year. 

A bite or scratch from any wild mammal should cause concern and be reported to a health care provider and the local environmental health office.

Children should be warned to avoid contact with wild animals and any stray dog or cat, and they should report any contact with these animals to an adult right away.

For more information about rabies and its prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/rabies.

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