Public health officials canvassing area with warning flyers

RaccoonBaringTeethDalton, GA A Whitfield County dog was recently bitten by a raccoon that has since tested positive for rabies. The dog was unvaccinated and must now undergo a six-month quarantine.

The dog was attacked by the raccoon during the evening of February 21st at a residence on Dogwood Drive off Pine Hill Road and East Morris Street in Dalton. The dog fought back and killed the raccoon.

The raccoon was sent to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing the next day and the positive results were reported to local officials on the afternoon of February 23rd.

Other unvaccinated dogs were on the property but were not known to have been bitten by the raccoon.

Officials of Whitfield County Environmental Health and Whitfield County Animal Control are canvassing the area with flyers that warn residents of the presence of rabies.

The owner of the bitten dog has chosen to keep the pet, so it will be given a rabies vaccination and placed in strict quarantine inside a double enclosure for six months with no human contact. Until the enclosure is ready, the dog will be kept at the Whitfield County Animal Control facility.

The remaining dogs will be vaccinated twice over a two-month period but not placed in quarantine.

Health officials continue to stress the importance of maintaining current rabies vaccinations in pets.

Additionally, residents should be wary of unfamiliar animals; and, parents should take special care to inform their children about rabies, telling children to avoid stray dogs and cats, as well as wild animals, and to report any such contacts or bites at once.

Ray King, director of Environmental Health for the North Georgia Health District, said, “The chance of dying from rabies is almost one hundred percent if the exposed person is not given preventive treatments soon after exposure. Rabies is a horrible way to die.”

King added, “Raccoons are much more common in urban areas than most persons realize, going out late each night on regular routes to feed on scraps and whatever humans leave available.”

Raccoons are the most common animal found with rabies in Georgia, but many other species can contract rabies such as skunks, foxes, bobcats, coyotes and bats.  Livestock can also contract rabies from wild animals and it is strongly recommended that livestock that have regular contact with humans also be vaccinated.

Suspicious animals that appear aggressive or sick should be immediately reported to Whitfield County Animal Control at (706) 278-2018 or to the Whitfield County Environmental Health Office at (706) 272-2005.

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