Health officials and animal shelter stress rabies prevention - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Health officials and animal shelter stress rabies prevention

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Puppies up for Adoption at Lowndes County Animal Shelter Puppies up for Adoption at Lowndes County Animal Shelter
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By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

LOWNDES COUNTY, GA (WALB) –Health officials and animal control officers are stressing the dangers of rabies.

Over the last few months, several people in Lowndes County have been bitten by possibly rabid animals. 

None of those people got sick, but health officials want this to serve as a reminder to vaccinate your pets and to report all bites.

Lowndes County Environmentalists have investigated more than 20 cases of humans bitten by animals in the last six months, none of the cases resulted in rabies. Two wild animals did test positive for the disease.

 "There was a bat and a fox that tested positive for rabies," said Lowndes County Animal Shelter Director Linda Patelski.

Each year people are bitten by wildlife.

"Most of them, nothing ever comes out of it but every once in awhile something's going to happen where the animal turns up to be positive for rabies," said Patelski.

Domesticated animals are less likely to have rabies but health officials say pet owners should vaccinate horses, livestock, or any animal that is frequently in contact with people.

Between 2003 and 2009 in Lowndes County six foxes, three raccoons, three bats, one otter, and one cat tested positive for rabies. 

"The virus is transmitted through the saliva of an animal and when an animal is in the final stages of having rabies, it can act differently depending upon the animal," said Lowndes County Environmental Manager Galen Baxter.

Patelski says if your own dog bites you, you still need to report your dog has bitten especially if they're not updated on all their rabies vaccinations.

If you're bitten by a dog cat or ferret for instance you know is healthy, that animal still has to be quarantined for ten days to be monitored for rabies.  

"If it is rabid within that 10-day period it would die," said Baxter.

Baxter says to spay and neuter your pet because that reduces the number of stray animals and can reduce the number of animals and people to rabies.

The pets shown in this video are healthy and up for adoption at the Lowndes County Animal Shelter.

The South Health District says to follow these tips to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife:

œIf possible, don't feed or water your pets outside. Even empty bowls will attract wild and stray animals.

œKeep your garbage securely covered. Open garbage will attract wild or stray animals.

œDo not keep wild animals as pets.

œEnjoy wild animals from afar - teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, even if they appear friendly.

œIf you see a wild animal acting strangely report it to LowndesCounty Animal Control.

œBat-proof your home in the fall and winter.

You can also contact the Lowndes County Health Department at (229) 245-2314 to report a bite or for more information on rabies.


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