Wildfires can increase risk for rabies exposure
Recent woods and brush fires could cause wild or stray animals to move into residential areas. Residents are strongly cautioned that contact with such animals could result in rabies exposure.
Tell your children not to pet or have other contact with wild or stray animals. Very few wild or stray animals have or carry rabies, but it is always best to leave them alone unless you or your pets are attacked.
Never approach a wild or stray animal exhibiting abnormal behaviors such as appearing to be friendly, disoriented, sick or aggressive.
USDA Wildlife Rabies Surveillance found a raccoon two months ago in Whitfield County that was positive for rabies; no human or domestic animal exposure occurred. The USDA recently distributed oral rabies vaccine baits for wildlife in Whitfield County to reduce rabies in raccoons, foxes, skunks, coyotes and bobcats.
One of the easiest ways to protect your family is to ensure all pets have a current vaccination for rabies. These vaccinations are inexpensive and very effective in protecting your pets and your family in the event of an encounter with a wild animal.
Report any potential rabies exposure such as a bite or scratch from a wild or stray animal to your Gilmer County Environmental Health Office for investigation and advisement. The phone number is (706) 635-6050.
Contact with bats, or finding a bat in your home, should be reported immediately. The environmental health office can have animals tested for rabies if there is exposure.
Vaccinating your pets, avoiding contact with wild or unknown animals and teaching your children to avoid such contact will prevent rabies exposures. Human rabies treatments must be administered quickly after exposure and can be expensive.
For more information about rabies and its prevention, log onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at cdc.gov/rabies/.