East Central Health of Georgia

East Central Health District

Rabid Raccoon Found In West Richmond County

A resident of West Augusta was bitten by a raccoon on October 2, 2005 at his home address. Richmond County Animal Control personnel were contacted and they shot the animal. Also, the Richmond County Health Department’s Environmental Health Section was notified of the attack. The raccoon was collected via environmental officials and sent to Georgia State Laboratory for testing.

The Environmental Section received a call from the state lab at 4:42 PM yesterday afternoon that the raccoon tested positive for rabies. The victim of the attack was notified of the test results and was advised to seek medical attention. He informed health officials that he had already begun receiving rabies prophylaxis after initial visit to a local hospital and is currently doing well.

Rabies is an acute and deadly viral infection of the central nervous system, which can also involve the respiratory and gastrointestinal system. When symptoms do appear, it usually 30 to 50 days following exposure. There is a direct relationship between how severe the bite is and where on the body the person bitten and how long it takes for symptoms to appear hence symptoms could appear in a few as 14 days.

The following are symptoms of Rabies:

– A short period of mental depression
– Restlessness
– Abnormal sensations such as itching around the site of the bite
– Headache
– Fever
– Tiredness
– Nausea
– Sore throat
– Loss appetite

Other early symptoms include:

– Stiff muscles
– Dilation (enlargement) of pupils of the eye
– Increased production of salvia, and
– Unusual sensitivity to sound, light and changes of temperature

Mr. Michael Allison, Environmental Health Specialist for the Richmond County Health Department states, “Rabies can affect wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, and bats, as well as household pets such as dogs and cats. Vaccination of pets and livestock is the most effective control measure to prevent the disease in these animals and subsequent human exposure”.

Most people get rabies from being bitten by a rabid animal. Rarely, if a person has broken skin, like a scratch, which comes in contact with animal saliva full of rabies virus, that person may get infected.

The East Central Health District Environmental Health Section is asking all residents of the district to make sure your pets are inoculated against rabies and to avoid all contact with wild animal. In addition, report any contact of humans with wild animals to Richmond County Health Department Environmentalist Health Section office at 706-667-4234 and contact of pets with wild animals to Richmond County Animal Control at 706-790- 6836.

For additional information on Rabies refer to these websites:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration – www.fda.gov
World Health Organization – www.who.int
Center for Disease Control and Prevention – www.cdc.govncidod/dvrd/rabies
Emmitt L.Walker
Public Information Officer