According to Andrea Wheeler, Gilmer County Environmental Health Manager, both raccoons tested positive for rabies on July 28 after they each attacked domestic dogs in two separate incidents in which a woman was exposed to rabies and a man was potentially exposed to the deadly disease.
The rabies exposure to the woman occurred in the 52 West-James Creek-Brook Court vicinity when one of the raccoons that later tested positive for rabies attacked three dogs. After the raccoon was captured, she picked up the animal trap that contained the raccoon and was scratched; therefore, she is now seeking rabies exposure treatment.
“The other incident took place in the Old Highway 5 North-Rose Petal Lane area,” said Ms Wheeler. “The raccoon got into a fight with a dog and the dog’s owner tried to pull the raccoon away by grabbing its tail. The raccoon did not scratch or bite the owner, but as a precaution, we referred him to his physician for potential rabies exposure treatment.”
None of the dogs exposed in the incidents were current on their rabies vaccinations; consequently, they will have to be either euthanized or quarantined and observed under strict state-mandated guidelines for six months.
Gilmer County Environmental health officials have shipped 16 specimens for rabies testing since January of this year, eight of which – or 50 per cent – have tested positive for rabies.
It is Georgia State Law to vaccinate your animals against rabies. Furthermore, if you have a ‘stray’ dog or cat that you are feeding, providing shelter for, or are caring for in any way, you are responsible for that animal. Please vaccinate your pets against rabies and help control the pet population through spaying/neutering your animals.
A bite from a wild or domestic animal for which there is no proof of current rabies vaccination could be potentially deadly. Wash the bite with soap and water and rinse for several minutes. Seek medical attention immediately and report the bite to the Gilmer County Environmental Health Office at 706-635-6050 with the following information:
- The geographic location of the incident
- The type of animal that was involved
- How the exposure occurred (provoked or unprovoked)
- The vaccination status of any pets involved
- Whether the aggressive animal can be safely captured and tested for rabies
For more information about rabies, call the local county Environmental Health Department or log onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov .