Morganton (GA) – A llama at a residence on Elrod Road in Morganton, Georgia tested positive for rabies after biting and spitting at people.
Four people were in contact with the unvaccinated llama while it was symptomatic and shedding the rabies virus; therefore, Fannin County Environmental Health officials recommended that they all immediately seek medical advice from their healthcare providers and consult with the Georgia Poison Control Center regarding the extent of their exposure.
Shannon Bradburn, Environmental Health Specialist, received a call from Ocoee Animal Hospital in Blue Ridge on January 4 stating that a llama specimen, which had been sent by a local veterinarian to Athens Diagnostic Laboratory and then to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Albany Regional Laboratory, was confirmed positive for the rabies virus.
Bradburn said the veterinarian had been called to the property on Elrod Road on December 28 because the animal had exhibited signs of aggression, including loss of motor skills, biting itself, biting at people and spitting at one of its caretakers. Consequently, the veterinarian euthanized the llama and collected the specimen for the rabies testing that was later performed by the labs.
The caretaker who was spat on by the llama is receiving post exposure rabies treatment.
After consultation with environmental health officials, physicians and Georgia Poison Control, it was determined that two of the four individuals in contact with the llama experienced very limited exposure, so they will not need treatment.
Health officials are still waiting to see if treatment is needed for the fourth person involved and will continue to follow up with that individual over the next few days.
Rabies is almost always deadly in humans who contract it and do not receive treatment. People must recognize the exposure and promptly get appropriate medical treatment before developing rabies symptoms.
Health officials urge residents to protect against rabies by maintaining rabies vaccinations in their pets and livestock. Additionally, it is important to avoid contact with all unfamiliar animals, both domestic and wild.
For more information about rabies and its prevention, call Fannin County Environmental Health at (706) 632-3024 or log onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov.