Rabies Awareness from exposure to Wild or Domestic Animals

 October 7, 2010


It doesn’t matter whether you live in the city limits or out in the rural parts of the county, altercations with both wild and domestic animals can and do happen on a regular basis. 

 Should this happen to you or your pets, there are several things to keep in mind.  First, is wound-care; that is, making sure you or your pet isn’t bleeding and taking care of any injury that might have occurred.  The second thing is contacting a physician or health care professional to determine if treatment is needed.  This can be as simple as picking up the phone and calling the Georgia Poison Control Center or going to see your family physician or veterinarian. 

 The reason that you need to check into this may not be as well-known, though.  Once a creature becomes infected with the rabies virus, it is almost 100% fatal.  (According to CDC sources, there are only 6 known cases of a human surviving rabies once he or she has begun to show symptoms of the disease.)  If you are bitten by a domesticated animal, such as a dog or cat, the easiest way to find out if the animal is rabid is by merely observing it in closed quarters for 10 days (some animals, such as horses, require a longer period).  If the animal is clear of symptoms at the end of the observation period, the Georgia Rabies Control Manual considers it to be clear of any chance of rabies infection.  Contact your local health department for complete animal quarantine/observation procedures.

 If you or your pets are exposed to a wild animal such as a bat, fox, or raccoon, observation may not prove to be helpful since a specific period of time has not been determined for the symptoms of rabies to appear in wild animals.  Normally animals in this category are picked up by Animal Control or the Department of Natural Resources and are humanely tested for the rabies virus.


In order to keep you and your pets safe, there are a few things you can do:

·         Keep your pets and livestock up-to-date on their vaccinations.

·         Do not handle or approach wild animals OR stray domestic animals.

·         Report stray animals to Animal Control or your local health department.

·         Feed pets indoors.

·         Never keep a wild animal as a pet.

·         Keep any trash that it outside in a tightly sealed container.

·         Secure any doors, windows, or other outside openings in your home, such as pet doors.


If you are bitten and/or scratched by a wild or stray animal, please contact your physician or professional healthcare provider and Animal Control.  Both your physician and Animal Control will need a description of the animal AND what the animal was doing at the time of the incident.  This information is vital in determining the nature of health care you need and in helping Animal Control to properly identify the animal should it be found.

 If it is your pet that is bitten, scratched, and/or attacked, you will need to see to its injuries immediately and contact your veterinarian for guidance.  Most cities have ordinances stating that Animal Control should also be notified of the incident as well.

 If you have any questions, please contact your local health department or the Georgia Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222.