• Happy Thanksgiving from the North Georgia Health District! Our district offices in Dalton will be closed Thanksgiving Day and Friday, November 23 and 24. All our Public Health Departments and services in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties will also be closed both days. Best wishes from us to you for a healthy and safe holiday!

rabies picDalton (GA) – On July 12, the Georgia Public Health Laboratory reported to the Whitfield County Environmental Health office that a poodle-mix puppy from the 900-block area of Dawnville Road in Whitfield County was rabid.

Anyone who may have had contact with this cream-colored puppy should contact Whitfield County Environmental Health at 706-272-2005 or the North Georgia Health District at 706-529-5757, extension 1161. Because the rabies virus can be present in the saliva of an animal before it shows symptoms of rabies, health authorities need to talk to anyone who had physical contact with the puppy since June 27 to evaluate their need for preventative rabies treatments.

Once symptoms of rabies start to develop in a human, there is no cure and death is almost certain. If anyone thinks they may have been exposed to rabies, seek medical care at once.

The puppy was too young for a rabies vaccination when a skunk attacked it several weeks ago, biting it in the head and transmitting rabies. There have been three additional rabid skunks in Whitfield County this year.

The rabies virus is transmitted in the saliva of the rabid animal through bites that break the skin or by exposure of the saliva to mucous membranes of the nose or eyes. Puppies lick, gnaw and chew by their nature, so a lick to a fresh wound would also be an exposure to rabies.

Health authorities need to talk with persons who had these kinds of exposures to the saliva of the puppy within the two weeks before it started to become ill on July 7. Simply being around the puppy or handling it would not require rabies treatments. Contact with the saliva is the most important factor in transmitting rabies.

Children should be warned to avoid any contact with stray dogs, cats and wild animals such as skunks, raccoons, bats, bobcats, coyotes, foxes and other wild carnivores. Bites from any of these animals need immediate medical attention. Be certain all pets are currently vaccinated against rabies. Livestock are also susceptible to rabies and can be vaccinated by a veterinarian.

More information about rabies may be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html.

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