Cobb & Douglas Public Health is encouraging residents to take immediate steps to reduce contact with possibly infected animals, particularly as the weather warms and people are spending more time outside.
Rabies is caused by a virus that animals and people can get through certain exposures to the saliva or nervous tissue from a rabid animal, and is nearly 100% fatal without proper care following exposure. Because survival is so rare following clinical signs of the virus, individuals exposed to or suspecting exposure from an animal bite should immediately seek medical attention to receive the rabies vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 40,000 U.S. residents are potentially exposed to rabies, requiring rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (vaccinations). If the animal tests positive for rabies or cannot be found for quarantine or testing, a series of rabies vaccinations must be given to the exposed person to prevent the disease. The regimen consists of one dose of rabies immune globulin (RIG) and four doses of rabies vaccine over a 14-day period.
Between 2015 – 2016, a total of eight animals in Cobb County tested positive for rabies, including raccoons, bats, dogs, and cats. In Douglas County, four cases of animals testing positive for rabies were reported between 2015 – 2016. In the U.S., raccoons are the most common animals found to be rabid, followed by skunks and bats.
Although most rabies cases occur in wildlife, most humans are exposed to the virus because of an encounter with an infected domestic animal. Keeping pets, including cats and dogs, up-to-date on vaccinations, is the best way to help prevent rabies in humans and domestic animals.
Rabies Prevention Tips:
- All dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies. Consider vaccinating valuable livestock and horses. Animals that have frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated.
- Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.
- Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce any tendency they might have to roam or fight and thus reduce the chance that they will be exposed to rabies.
- Don’t feed or water your pets outside. Even empty bowls will attract wild and stray animals.
- Keep your garbage securely covered. Open garbage will also attract wild or stray animals.
- Wild animals such as raccoons, bats, and foxes should not be kept as pets.
- Enjoy all wild animals from a distance and teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals – even if they appear friendly.
- If you see a wild animal acting aggressively, report it to city or county animal control officials.
- Report all animal bites to your local animal control:
- Cobb County Animal Control: 770-499-4136
- Douglas County Animal Control: 770-942-5961
For more information about rabies, visit http://www.dph.georgia.gov/rabies
About Cobb & Douglas Public Health
Cobb & Douglas Public Health, along with the Georgia Department of Public Health, has been committed to the mission of “Healthier Lives. Healthier Community.” since 1920. We are dedicated to improving our residents’ quality of life by tracking and preventing the spread of disease, promoting health and safety, providing exceptional medical services, and ensuring that our community is prepared for public health emergencies. For more information, visit www.cobbanddouglaspublichealth.org.