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Rabid pet cat attacks its owner, NC officials say

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A rabid pet cat attacked its owner after contracting the disease from a wild animal, North Carolina health officials said.

The cat is believed to have gotten rabies from an “unspecified wild animal” during the week of Nov. 2 in the “southern central part” of Brunswick County, according to a news release Monday from Brunswick County Health Services.

“The cat was injured, became ill, and later attacked its owner,” agency said in the release. “The cat was taken to a veterinarian where it was euthanized and tested positive for rabies.”

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The cat’s owner is being treated, according to the health department. No further information was released about the owner.

Any mammal can get rabies, including people. So what is it and how is it transmitted?

The cat was not current on its rabies vaccinations, as is required by state law, according to the health department. All dogs, cats and ferrets must be kept current on their rabies vaccinations from the time they are 4 months old.

Cases of rabies are rare among domestic animals because of the prevalence of rabies vaccines, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Cases among people are also rare and deaths caused by rabies in the U.S. average around one or two per year, according to the agency.

There were about 15 cases of rabies in cats and 20 in dogs in North Carolina in 2020, the last year for which data is available, according to the agency.

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