Public Health Reminds Residents to Be Aware of Wild Animals
On July 5, 2012 a resident in northern Houston County was scratched while in his yard by a stray kitten. The stray kitten had exhibited strange behavior and when picked up scratched the individual on their right hand. The kitten was euthanized by a local veterinarian and processed for shipping to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for testing. The Lab reported this evening that the kitten tested positive for the rabies virus. The individual is now in the process of getting the post rabies exposure shots.
This has not been the only incident involving a rabid animal to occur in Houston County this summer. In June, a fox attacked a man in Perry, Georgia that was also positive for rabies. In another part of Northern Warner Robins an individual was attacked by a fox. The fox was not located for testing so Post Exposure rabies shots were recommended. Because these two foxes came in contact with people they were given the post rabies exposure shots. Everyone needs to be aware that foxes and other wild animals are very active during this time of the year. Please pay special attention when you see wild animals during the day time hours as this is not normal behavior.
The Houston County Health Department wants to remind everyone of the following:
- Rabies is a viral infection carried in the saliva of infected animals
- A person can get the rabies virus by being bitten by a rabid animal or coming in contact with the saliva, which can get into open wounds, eyes or mouth.
- Wild animals are the most likely potential source of rabies for both people and pets.
-- The most common wild animals to carry the rabies virus are:
-- Please remember that stray cats and dogs also carry the rabies virus
You can protect yourself and your pets by:
- Having your pets vaccinated against rabies
- Not feeding or handling wild animals
- Avoiding stray animals
- Learning how to bat proof your home
- Teaching your children not to approach wild animals or stray cats and dogs
Should you be bitten or scratched by an animal and until the risk of rabies is completely ruled out, prompt medical care is necessary. To rule out the risk of having been exposed to rabies, the animal's head must be sent for testing to the State Lab or the live animal is put under a strict quarantine for 10 days. If the animal cannot be tested or can't be captured and quarantined, then post exposure treatment needs to be started. If your pet has been exposed, take it to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Post exposure medications make rabies a very treatable virus, but if it is not treated quickly, the disease is almost always fatal.
For more information, please contact the Environmental Health Office at the Houston County Health Department at 478-218-2020 or call your local health department.