Public health officials announce first case of Haralson animal rabies in 2017

Caution residents about rabies and urge pet vaccination
Buchannan, GA:  Environmental health officials with the Haralson County Health Department have confirmed the first case of animal rabies in the county this year.  The case was a domestic cat, and officials are reminding residents of the importance of having pets vaccinated against the but fatal-if-not-treated disease. 
There were no confirmed cases of animal rabies in the county in 2016, but there were three in 2015 and one in 2014.
According to Sherman , the Lucky Paws Humane Society is sponsoring a convenient, drive-through, rabies-vaccination clinic Saturday, May 20, from 2 pm to 5 pm, at Helton Howland Park on Highway 78 in Tallapoosa .  Cost is $12, cash only.  Dr. Matt McCord with Bowdon Animal Clinic will be the veterinarian on-site, and Sherman says “this will be a convenient opportunity for Haralson residents to cost effectively vaccinate their pets.”
“We’re urging citizens throughout the county to be on the lookout for wild as well as domestic animals exhibiting unusual behavior and to take proper
precautions,” said the health department’s Environmental Health Manager Melissa Sherman. 
Sherman cautioned that wild, stray and unvaccinated animals may be infected with rabies and emphasized residents should take precautions to protect themselves, their families and their pets.  “Reducing the risk of rabies in domestic animals and limiting human contact with wild animals are two measures central to the prevention of human rabies,” explained Sherman .
Haralson had no animal rabies case in 2016, three in 2015, one in 2014, and none in 2013.   
Effective precautions against rabies include:
        Vaccinate all dogs, cats and ferrets against rabies.  Check with your veterinarian to make sure your pets have up-to-date protection against rabies.  Remember that the vaccination of pets against rabies protects not only the pets, but more importantly, protects people.
        Low-cost rabies vaccinations are available through Tractor Supply stores in Cartersville, Carrollton , Dallas , and Rome about every two weeks.  Call for specific information.
        Don’t leave pet food out where wild animals can access it.  Leaving pet food out is a sure way of getting wild animals to visit your home endangering you, your family and your pets.
        Remind children to avoid animals they don’t recognize, especially
        stray or wild animals.  These animals may be infected with rabies.  
        Small children should not be left unattended with dogs, even if the dog is a pet or the child is familiar with it.
        Keep pets at home.  Obey any county laws requiring that dogs be restrained to the owner’s property.  Pets that are kept close to home are less likely to encounter a rabid animal.
        Report any raccoon, fox, bat or skunk that is out during the day in a residential area or that is behaving strangely to the local Georgia Department of Natural Resources Game and Fish Division office at   1-800-241-4113.
        Report stray dogs and cats and aggressive or sick-appearing animals to the local animal-control office. 
        Don’t attempt to assist injured or sick animals without professional help.  Even animals which would never bite otherwise can bite when sick or in pain.
        Bats found in sleeping quarters should be captured and tested for rabies even when there is no evidence of a bite wound or contact with the sleeping individuals.   
        After-hours calls involving aggressive animals should be directed to 911.
        After-hours calls involving animal bites and their potential for rabies exposure should be directed to 866-PUB-HLTH (866-782-4584).
Haralson County residents can visit the Northwest Georgia Public Health website atwww.nwgapublichealth.org/env/rabies.htm for county-specific animal rabies data for the ten-county Northwest Health District, which includes Haralson County , as well as information on rabies precautions.   Residents can also visit www.cdc.gov/rabies for comprehensive rabies information.
About the Haralson County Health Department:  The Haralson County Health Department works to prevent disease, injury, and disability; promote health and wellbeing; and prepare for and respond to disasters, thereby improving the quality of life for individuals and families in Haralson County . We provide exceptional medical services, track and prevent the spread of disease, promote health and safety through education and communication, monitor area environmental safety, including restaurant and other food-service inspections, and ensure our community is prepared for public health emergencies. Find us on the web at http://nwgapublichealth.org/counties/haralson/
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Topics : Human Interest