Public Health Reminds Residents to Be Aware of Wild Animals
On Friday, June 22, a resident living in Lower Thomaston Road area in Bibb County was attacked and bitten in his yard by a fox. While the individual was sitting under a pecan tree, the fox charged the victim, biting him on the right arm and hand. The fox was killed and processed for shipping to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for testing. The Lab reported that the fox tested positive for the rabies virus. The individual is now in the process of getting the post rabies exposure shots.
This was not the only incident involving a fox to occur in Macon and Bibb County. During the same week, two other foxes that were acting strangely around people were euthanized. These two foxes did not come in contact with people and were not tested for rabies. Everyone needs to be aware that foxes and other wild animals are very active during this time of the year. Please pay special attention when you see wild animals during the day time hours.
The Macon/Bibb County Health Department wants to remind everyone of the following:
- Rabies is a viral infection carried in the saliva of infected animals
- A person can get the rabies virus by being bitten by a rabid animal or coming in contact with the saliva, which can get into open wounds, eyes or mouth.
- Wild animals are the most likely potential source of rabies for both people and pets.
-- The most common wild animals to carry the rabies virus are:
-- Please remember that stray cats and dogs also carry the rabies virus
You can protect yourself and your pets by:
- Having your pets vaccinated against rabies
- Not feeding or handling wild animals
- Avoiding stray animals
- Learning how to bat proof your home
- Teaching your children not to approach wild animals or stray cats and dogs
Should you be bitten or scratched by an animal and until the risk of rabies is completely ruled out, prompt medical care is necessary. To rule out the risk of having been exposed to rabies, the animal's head must be sent for testing to the State Lab or the live animal is put under a strict quarantine for 10 days. If the animal cannot be tested or can't be captured and quarantined, then post exposure treatment needs to be started. If your pet has been exposed, take it to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Post exposure medications make rabies a very treatable virus, but if it is not treated quickly, the disease is almost always fatal.
For more information, please contact the Environmental Health Office at the Macon-Bibb County Health Department at 478-745-0411 or call your local health department.