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Rabies investigations in Grady County prompts health department reminder

Positive cases of rabies have cropped up in Southwest Georgia recently, including one here, says Grady County Health Department Environmental Health Specialist Shane Huey, who reminded pet owners that keeping vaccinations up-to-date is the best protection against the disease.
“Since we know rabies is in the wild animal population, we are not surprised to see positive cases now and then,” he said. “Rather than alarming us, these cases should serve as a reminder of the importance of having pets vaccinated against rabies and making sure that the vaccinations are up-to-date.”
He said a case of rabies was confirmed in January in an unvaccinated pet dog in Grady County. Unfortunately, not only did the dog die, but the pet’s family was exposed to the disease, said Huey.
In addition, since the first of the year, environmental health specialists at the Grady County Health Department have investigated reports of animal bites by four dogs and a cat, none of which were current on their rabies vaccinations.
“These are all pets or neighbors’ pets,” Huey said. “I don’t believe anyone would want their animal to have to be quarantined for a minimum of 10 days or a maximum of six months and feel the anxiety of not knowing if they might have contracted rabies themselves.”
All mammals are vulnerable to rabies, including horses, goats and cattle.
Dogs and cats three months old and older should be vaccinated against rabies. Pet ferrets should also receive rabies inoculations, as should valuable livestock, Huey said.
Raccoons have accounted for many of the positive cases of rabies in Southwest Health District in recent years, but other animals in Georgia known to carry rabies include bats, foxes, skunks, bobcats and coyotes, Huey said.
Rabies has been proven to be almost 100 percent preventable when prompt action is taken, said Grady County Health Department County Nurse Manager Peggy Connell. “It is important to report any scratch or bite, or contact with a wild or stray animal to our environmental health specialists at the health department. Untreated, rabies is fatal,” she said.

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