Five people in The Colony have tested positive for rabies and are being treated after contracting the virus from a pet dog.
The Colony Police Department Chief Joseph T. Clark says the dog — which lived at a home on the 6800 block of Curry Drive — bit a child on July 13, and later bit two adults on July 15 and 17.
The bites were not initially reported to The Colony Animal Services.
When the dog became ill on July 18, however, the owners took it to the vet. There, the vet contacted The Colony Animal Services after learning of the bites, and had the animal submitted for a rabies test.
When the results returned positive for rabies, animal services worked in conjunction with the Department of State Health Services to notify the three bitten persons and direct them to treatment facilities, Clark said.
The dog has been euthanized.
They also worked to identify other potential victims, and discovered two more persons have contracted the virus.
According to a news release from The Colony police, animal services believes the dog most likely picked up the virus from neighborhood feral cats. Community members say they have seen the cats eat and drink from the infected dog’s food and water bowls.
“[Cats] were seen in the backyards with this dog on several occasions, so they could’ve gotten into a tussle with these cats that were exposed via wildlife,” said Patricia Barrington, The Colony’s animal services manager.
Barrington said her department has gone out into the community alerting residents to the risk of rabies, and advising to stop feeding them wild cats.
“The folks who fed these cats are technically their owners, because they’re providing conditions for them to sustain life,” she said.
At this time, all five persons are undergoing treatment.
Julian Duarte lives on the block where the family was bitten. He hasn’t noticed a huge number of feral cats, but does say he’ll have a knife on hand just in case.
“I’ll stab a cat. I don’t want no rabies shot. Those things hurt,” he said.
Barrington said there hasn’t been positive exposure of rabies in a domesticated animal since her time at the department in 2005. But she does say the last non-domesticated animal to test positive was a bat back in 2012.