UPDATE: Raccoon tests positive for rabies in Dougherty Co.

UPDATE: Raccoon tests positive for rabies in Dougherty Co.
James C. Davis (Source: WALB)
James C. Davis (Source: WALB)
Rabies Vaccine (Source: WALB)
Rabies Vaccine (Source: WALB)

DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) - Dougherty County Health Officials have confirmed that a raccoon that bit a dog and chickens did have rabies.

Tuesday night around 6:30, the raccoon bit a homeowner's dog along with their chickens on Oakwood Street.

"A raccoon came into the yard and went after the homeowner's chickens. The dog intervened, and of course, there was a struggle between the raccoon and the dog. The dog was bitten.  The homeowner's kids intervened and killed the raccoon," he said.

The head of the dead raccoon was tested for the rabies virus earlier this week.

It wasn't immediately clear that the dog had been vaccinated.

If it was, there's a 45-day isolation period that the dog will undergo. If not, there's an isolation period of 6 months.

"Once the symptoms appear, it's already too late," said Environmental Health County Manager James Davis.

Davis said the faster you act after a bite, the better.

"A quick diagnosis is the most important thing. It's not an emergency, but it is an urgency," he said.

While the rabies virus is rare, it's still very serious and deadly.

"In 2016, we had one positive and one in-determinant, which of course we have to treat as a positive because the test results were inconclusive," said Davis.

But all it takes is one bite from a rabid animal, like a fox, or a coyote, or in this possible rabies case, a raccoon.

He said there's a 10-day period that they call the "shedding period."

Davis explained, if a dog was bitten by a positive raccoon today, he couldn't turn around and give it to you.

"The virus has to travel up the central nervous system, up to the brain, then it starts coming out in the saliva.  Just because an animal is positive for rabies, does not mean he is in the shedding period where he can transmit it," said Davis.

He said the most important thing for pet owners to remember: Vaccinate your animals.

If you think your animal has been bitten by a rabid animal, call animal control immediately.

If you think you have been bitten, contact your physician immediately.

Another important fact Davis reminds folks is that rats, squirrels, and birds do not carry the rabies virus.

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