A raccoon that stumbled into the backyard of a Wilmington Island home has tested positive for rabies. The family dog was in the backyard at the time and picked the raccoon up in its mouth. The dog was not up-to-date on rabies vaccinations and will remain under observation at Chatham County Animal Services for 45 days.
Several species of wild animals that are native to coastal Georgia – including raccoons, foxes, and bats – can carry rabies. Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals. The Chatham County Health Department Environmental Health office offers these tips to protect you and your family from rabies:
- Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
- Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines after 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster shot within one year and vaccination every 1-3 years depending on veterinary recommendation and vaccine used.
- Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
- Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.
Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis.
If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Chatham County Animal Services at 912-652-6575 and the Chatham County Environmental Health office at 912-356-2160.