Unusual Rise in Fall Rabies Cases

Another possible rabies case in Habersham County is now being tested. Animal Control Director Madi Hawkins says a specimen was sent to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta on Monday. The results are expected back later this week.

There have been three confirmed cases of rabies reported in Habersham since November 17th — eight total so far this year. While that number is fairly normal, Hawkins says the timing is not. “It is unusual that we are seeing so many this time of year, usually the interaction between wildlife and domestic animals occurs more in the springtime.”

READ: Another Case of Rabies Confirmed in Habersham

The most common rabies carriers in the U.S. are raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes. The last three cases in Habersham have involved skunks.

With the growing number of falltime rabies occurrences, pet owners and outdoor lovers need to take precautions.

Tips for protecting you and your pets

Hawkins urges do not handle wildlife and make sure your pets are current on their rabies vaccinations. “This vaccination must be administered by a licensed veterinarian,” she stresses, “and there must be proof of the vaccination which includes the veterinarians name and date of vaccination.”

Hawkins says if a vaccinated pet comes into contact with rabid wildlife, there is only a 45 day observation period. If the pet is not vaccinated the choices are a strict 6 month quarantine or euthanasia. “Rabies is 100% fatal once signs are present,” she adds.

More tips to protect you and your pets:

  1. If your pet bites a person or another animal, consult your veterinarian immediately. All bites should be reported to Habersham County Animal Care and Control. An animal control officer may contact you to file this report, and you will be required to show proof of your pet’s rabies vaccination.
  2. If your pet is bitten by another known domestic animal, consult your veterinarian immediately and ask the owner to provide proof of rabies vaccination. If the other animal is not up to date on their rabies vaccine, it is advisable to report the incident to your local animal control authority to ensure that the animal is quarantined appropriately.
  3. If your pet receives a suspected bite wound from an unknown animal, or if your pet comes in direct contact with any wild animal, even if no wounds are evident, consult HCACC and your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian may recommend a rabies booster.
  4. If you are scratched or bitten by any animal, either wild or domestic, consult your physician immediately. If required by your state’s rabies law, your physician will report the incident to your local health department and animal control agency. If the animal is a pet, ask the owner to provide proof of rabies vaccination.

RELATED: CDC – Rabies

Who to contact?

The Centers for Disease Control is only able to test animals that have come into contact with a domestic animal or human. Animal Control handles these “bite” cases (contact can include a bite, scratch, or attack). To contact Habersham County Animal Control call 706-754-0044.

If you live in Habersham County and are experiencing “nuisance wildlife issues” — wildlife that may seem suspect but has not made contact with a domestic animal or human — contact the Department of Natural Resources at 770-535-5700.

Outside of Habersham, visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources online at https://www.georgiawildlife.com/RangerContact to locate a DNR agent for your county.

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