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Biological Health Hazard – Rabies Outbreak (Public Warning) | Wildlife, Human exposures: Georgia, U.S.A .


Published Date: 2017-07-25 20:47:45
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Rabies (35): Americas, USA (GA) wildlife, multiple human exposures
Archive Number: 20170725.5203948

Date: Mon 24 Jul 2017
Source: News Channel 9, WTVC report [edited]

North Georgia Health District officials announced on [Mon 24 Jul 2017] that 12 people in northwest Georgia are now getting post-exposure rabies treatment due to contact with domestic animals that have now tested positive for the disease. One of the cases is out of Whitfield County.

Within the past 2 weeks, 2 puppies and a kitten have been confirmed by the Georgia Public Health Laboratory as having rabies. All 3 pets were too young to get the rabies vaccine. One of the puppies was in Whitfield County and the other was in Gilmer County, while the kitten was in Cherokee County. In each case, the pet was attacked by a rabid wild animal and bittenG in the head, but it was not reported to veterinarians or health authorities until rabies symptoms developed in the pet.

The Georgia DPH says the time between being bitten by the wild animal and onset of rabies symptoms was very short because the head bites were close to the brain. The rabies virus only travels through the nervous system to the brain, not through blood or other organs. The closer a bite is from the brain, the shorter time it takes to reach the brain. The wild animals that transmitted rabies to the puppies and kitten were a skunk, a raccoon and, possibly, a coyote.

The Georgia DPH says the fact that these unrelated cases occurred in separate areas of the North Georgia Health District within the past 2 weeks is a coincidence, and even more coincidental is that all pets involved were too young to have been vaccinated. Pets must be at least 3 months old to be vaccinated against rabies.

Parents are strongly cautioned to keep children away from wild animals, strays and unvaccinated pets that may have been in contact with wild animals. Vaccinate all dogs and cats at 3 months of age and no later.

The Georgia DPH says wild carnivores are the animals most likely to spread rabies to pets and humans, including raccoons, skunks, foxes, bobcats, and coyotes. It is also not uncommon for persons to acquire rabies from bats. Any bite or other physical contact with a bat or any of these wild carnivores should be evaluated by a medical professional for rabies exposure. Even finding a bat in a bedroom where a person has been sleeping is cause for alarm and should be reported.

Human deaths from rabies in the United States are rare, but because rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms begin to develop in a human, the only prevention is anti-rabies treatments given as soon as possible after exposure to rabies. If given in time, the treatments are 100 percent effective in preventing rabies. Only a small minority of wild animals carries and transmits rabies, so indiscriminate killing of them is not warranted. If these types of wild animals or domestic animals seem to be behaving strangely or displaying symptoms suggestive of a neurological illness, contact a veterinarian and the county Environmental Health office at once.

Livestock animals are also susceptible to rabies but can be vaccinated by a veterinarian. Rabies vaccinations are strongly recommended for show livestock and any livestock with which humans have regular contact such as riding horses.

Contact the local Environmental Health Office for questions about rabies or to report an incident that may involve rabies. Contact information for Environmental Health offices in the North Georgia Health District is available at <>. Questions and reports may also be directed to the North Georgia Health District Environmental Health office in Dalton, Georgia by calling (706) 529-5757, extension 1161.

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

[A question: If these 2 puppies and the kitten were less than 12 weeks old when they demonstrated signs of rabies and the 3 were all bitten in the head, how did they survive being bitten in the first place? A coyote would certainly have killed them straight off. Reading between the lines the rabies viruses have been identified as skunk and raccoon strain viruses.

And keep children and their pets well away from any wild animals, especially those unexpectedly around the house in daylight.

Cherokee, Gilmer, & Whitfield counties are clustered close together in the NW corner of Georgia – Mod.MHJ

The state of Georgia can be located on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at <;.
A county map can be seen at – CopyEd.AO]

See Also

Rabies (34): Americas, USA (TX), bat, human exposure 20170719.5188826
Rabies (33): Americas, USA (AZ), bobcat, canine & human exposures 20170718.5186364
Rabies (28): Americas, USA (OR), bat, human exp. 20170707.5157811
Rabies (27): Americas, USA (MD) feline 20170702.5145002
Rabies (23): Americas (USA) 20170530.5070423
Rabies (21): Americas (USA, Mexico) 20170508.5020016
Rabies (15): Americas (USA, Canada) 20170327.4927624

Rabies – Americas (42): USA (GA, CA) feline, human exposure 20161228.4729163
Rabies – Americas (21): USA (CT, GA) canine, feline, raccoon, human exposures 20160707.4331848
Rabies – Americas (10): USA (GA) feline, raccoon, human exposure 20160415.4162669

Rabies – USA (44): (GA) bat, human exposure 20151018.3724071
Rabies – USA (16): (GA,SC) feline, raccoon, ovine, human exposure 20150605.3413164

Rabies – USA (01): (SC, GA) update 20140105.2153197

Rabies – USA (11): (GA) horse, human exposure 20120621.1176209
Rabies – USA (05): (GA) feline, human exposure 20120315.1071647

Rabies, raccoon, feline – USA: (AL, GA) 20100220.0580

Rabies – USA: (GA) canine 20090717.2542
Rabies, wildlife, equine, human exposure – USA (02): (NC, GA) 20090410.1378
Rabies, wildlife, equine, human exposure – USA: (NC, GA) 20090409.1364

Rabies – USA: (GA, ME), skunk, feline, canine 20081110.3527
Rabies, canine, human exposure – USA (02): (GA) 20080801.2360
Rabies, canine, human exposure – USA (GA) 20080730.2340
Rabies, animal, human – USA: (AR, AZ, GA, NY) 20080410.1319

Rabies, canine – USA (GA) 20070510.1503

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

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