Jasper (GA) – As a rabid raccoon attempted to attack a Pickens County, Georgia woman, her dog leapt to the rescue, saving her from harm.
According to Jan Stephens, manager of Pickens County Environmental Health, a couple in the Yellow Creek area of the county was walking around the edge of the woods with their dog early in the morning on Saturday, April 11, when a raccoon suddenly ran aggressively toward the woman’s foot. The couple’s dog lunged at the raccoon and fought it before it could come into contact with the woman, and her husband beat the raccoon to death with a stick.
Stephens submitted the raccoon to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory that Monday, and the lab confirmed on Tuesday that the raccoon was positive for rabies.
Because the dog was properly vaccinated against rabies, it was only necessary to give the pet a booster rabies shot. If the dog had not been vaccinated, the couple would have been faced with either euthanizing their pet or keeping it in strict quarantine for six months.
Several positive rabies cases have occurred in the Yellow Creek area in past years, so residents should be alert to animals behaving strangely.
As in this case, wild animals seen during the day may indicate abnormal behavior and the possibility of rabies. Rabid animals may be aggressive, seem tame or simply sick and lethargic. Children should be instructed not to approach any stray dog, cat or wild animal and to report a bite, scratch or other contact with such animals.
Although raccoons lead the list of rabid animals in Georgia, other species are also susceptible including skunks, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and bats. Never pick up or handle any bat. Rodents and rabbits are almost never found to have rabies.
All bites from animals should be reported to your physician and to the county environmental health office as soon as possible.
State law requires that every dog and cat be vaccinated for rabies. Keep your dogs and cats current on their rabies vaccinations. It takes about thirty days for an initial rabies vaccination to become fully effective so do not delay.
Dr. Craig Chester will be holding drive-up rabies clinics throughout the summer on the 3rd Saturday of every month at 8 a.m. to noon at the Jasper Farmers Market. For details, log onto https://jasperfarmersmarket.wordpress.com. Other clinics are listed regularly in the local media, as they are announced. The partnership between a pet owner and a veterinarian is the best protection against rabies, so residents are urged to take advantage of these special opportunities.
For more information about rabies and rabies prevention, residents may contact the Pickens County Environmental Health office at (706) 253-0900 or log onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/features/rabiessafefamily.