Health officials warn of rabies threat - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Health officials warn of rabies threat

By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –When spring arrives people will spend more time outdoors and that raises the risk of coming in contact with rabid animals.

Health officials want to make sure your animals are vaccinated and you know the signs of rabies.

All it takes is a simple lick, a scratch or a bite to contract the deadly disease.

"Once you get rabies there is nothing you can do," said  Southwest Health District Environmental Director Dewayne Tanner.

Its a deadly virus found in the saliva and brain tissue of many wild animals in our area.

"Raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, skunks, bats, foxes are the most prevalent," said Tanner.

And rabies is transferred through saliva not blood.

"Let's say you had an open wound on your hand, you could feasibly get rabies from that," said Tanner.

Last year, 55 samples of brain tissue from suspect animals were tested and 24 came back positive for rabies.

"Rabies is common in the wild population and to have that many cases, half of what we tested positive is a high percentage," said Tanner.

Health officials say if you get bit, report it so Environmental health officials can investigate.

"We look at things to see if it was provoked what type of animal, do we have the animal to observe," said Tanner.

And if they can find the animal and test it, it would prevent someone from having to go through an expensive and lengthy treatment.

"The animal has to be put to sleep obviously and then we send the brain to the lab and they use a fluorescent test and they can see if the rabies is present," said Tanner.

Most of the cases investigated in our area involved unvaccinated dogs and cats.

"Dog bites are the most cases we investigate," said Tanner.

Which is why vaccinating your pet is so important, because if you don't you are putting you and your beloved companion at risk.

Georgia law requires Dogs, cats and even ferrets get rabies vaccinations when they are three to four months old. After that they have to get vaccinated every year. Because, even if you don't come in contact with a wild animal and your pet does you could still get rabies.

If you see a suspicious animal that won't go way don't try to touch it.

Call animal control or 9-1-1.

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