Spalding County Environmental Health Manager Kelly Andrews and Griffin Police said the raccoon was in the area of East College Street in Griffin on Jan. 15. No residents are believed to have had contact with the animal, officials said, however, it is possible other animals in the area have been exposed to rabies.
Raccoons are typically nocturnal and are normally spotted at night. The police department reminds everyone to keep your pets safe and to stay away from any animal that may be exhibiting unusual behavior. If you have any concerns, please call 911.
“If you notice a wild nocturnal animal moving about in the daytime and the animal appears to show no fear of people or the animal seems to behave in a sick or abnormal way, the animal may be infected with rabies,” said Hayla Folden, District 4 public information officer. “Therefore, people should avoid the animal and report it to the local health department or animal control.”
All residents are encouraged to take precautions to protect their families and pets against rabies by learning signs of rabies and vaccinating pets.
“It is important to remember that although rabies occurs more often in wildlife, domestic animals like the family dog or cat can become infected as well,” said Andrews. “I strongly encourage owners to have all pets vaccinated to prevent rabies.”
Unvaccinated pets are not only at risk for acquiring rabies, but they also place their owners at risk for potential exposure. Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals that is most often spread through the bite of an animal that is infected with the disease.
Rabies infects the central nervous system, causing encephalopathy (a disease of the brain) and, ultimately, death. Early symptoms of the disease include fever and headache. As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms appear and may include insomnia, confusion, hallucinations, a slight or partial paralysis, hyper salivation, and/or difficulty swallowing.
Treatment and prevention practices for rabies have proven to be almost 100 percent effective when initiated promptly. Please report any bite, scratch, or other contact with a wild animal to your local environmental health office.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of rabies cases reported annually occur in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats.
For more information about rabies, contact your local animal control office, county environmental health office, or visit the Georgia Division of Public Health web site at www.health.state.ga.us or the CDC web site at www.cdc.gov.