Vaccinations, awareness key in rabies prevention - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Vaccinations, awareness key in rabies prevention

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May 1, 2008

Albany -- A small, baby raccoon may look soft and furry, but animals just like these can contract and pass on a deadly virus.

"Some of the most common animals that carry rabies are red foxes and gray foxes. Also, bobcats, raccoons, and possums," said Julie Robbins with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Each year in south Georgia, several wild animals test positive for rabies, a viral infection transmitted in the saliva of infected mammals. With a large population of raccoons and foxes,  throughout the region, the public needs to be aware of animals showing symptoms of the virus.

"There are two forms of rabies. There is the furious form of rabies, and this is the type of animal that attacks any object. It can attack a moving car, it can attack a house, it can attack yourself. The other rabies form is the dumb rabies form where the animal doesn't seem to move at all. It just sits there," said Robbins.

Just last year, a gray fox that tested positive for rabies attacked a young boy and a volunteer at a summer camp in Crisp County. Both of them underwent a series of treatments after being exposed to the virus which is deadly if untreated. While the Southwest Georgia Health District says they haven't seen a rise in the number of rabid animal attacks, they warn against contact with any animal that is not your own.

"Children are notorious for going up to a small little kitten or little animal out in the woods. So we just encourage them not to approach or pick up any animal that they don't know," said Southwest Georgia Public Health Deputy Director Brenda Greene.

And if you or your pet comes into contact with animal that might exhibit the signs of rabies.

"What you need to do is contact your local health department. The health department will come and collect that animal and then they can send it for testing of rabies," said Robbins.

It's also important to note that bats are known carriers of rabies. Health officials warn that victims of bat bites may not be aware they've been bitten. They say if you find a bat inside your home to contact your local health department immediately.

Health officials and veterinarians also urge dog, cat, and ferret owners to vaccinate their pets against rabies each year. Georgia law requires these pets to receive rabies vaccinations annually.

During the week of May 5th - 9th, Colquitt County Health Department is offering discounted vaccinations for domestic pets. The fee is $10 during Rabies Prevention Week. Listed below are the locations where the vaccinations will be administered

Dr. Garcia: 1306 First St., NE, Moultrie; M-F, 7:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. & 2 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Dr. Mathis: 3283 Veteran Parkway, South, Moultrie; M-F, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. & 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Dr. Matthews: 4121 S. Main St., Moultrie; M,T,W,F - 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. & 2:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.; Thursday & Sunday, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.

For more information you can contact the Colquitt County Health Department at 229-891-7100.

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