MATTHEWS, N.C. — Officials said three people are being treated for rabies after being bitten by a 6-month-old kitten near a medical center in Matthews.
On Wednesday, Channel 9 reported that two people were bitten just before 3:30 a.m. on July 5 near the Novant Matthews Medical Center on Matthews Township Parkway.
After our report aired, a viewer said she realized that when she was at the health complex on July 4, she was chased and bitten by the same cat.
Officials said the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Animal Control Unit found the cat and tests confirmed it had rabies.
"We get chills when we think about it. If she had not seen the news story, it may not have ended well," said an Animal Control officer.
Signs that an animal may be infected with rabies:
- loss of appetite
- irritability and unusual aggression
- lack of fear
- dilated pupils
- trembling and unsteadiness
- difficulty swallowing
- drooling or foaming at the mouth
The 6-month-old blue-gray cat was so sick, it chased its victims.
"They weren't trying to pet the cat. This cat came after them. That is a telltale sign something is kind of wrong," said an Animal Control officer.
Officials couldn't say much about the people who were hurt but said they should be OK.
Animal Control placed traps around the Novant Health campus Thursday to lure other potentially rabid animals.
If you came into contact with a gray-colored cat near the medical center between July 1 and July 5, or if you took home another young cat from the area, you should contact the Mecklenburg County Health Department because you may have been exposed to rabies.
You can be exposed to rabies by petting or by being bitten, licked or scratched by an animal who has been infected with the disease.
Experts said not all rabid animals are aggressive. Some are lethargic.
The cat is the seventh confirmed case of rabies in Mecklenburg County. The other animals include two skunks and four raccoons.
"The best thing to do: I personally would not let my child pet a stray animal. There’s just too many risks there. But I do not want to send the message that you should not help a stray animal. Just make sure that you’re taking precautions,” said Melissa Knicely, with the Animal Control Unit.
The unit said if your pet gets bitten by an animal, you should wrap the pet in a blanket and take it to the vet.
North Carolina law requires pet owners to get their pet a rabies vaccine at 4 months old.
The Animal Control Unit offers a free program once a month. You can find more information here.
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