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Everything you never wanted to know about rabies

Did you know that a current rabies shot is legally required for all domesticated and owned dogs, cats, and ferrets in the state of Georgia? According to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, “Rabies is a viral infection transmitted in the saliva of infected mammals.” In order for an animal to be considered vaccinated against rabies in the eyes of the Georgia state law, the animal must have been vaccinated by a licensing, practicing veterinarian at least 28 days prior to the bite or exposure of the domesticated animal. If your dog comes in contact with a wild animal that you think may have rabies, according to Georgia state law, you must contact the county health board and notify them of the incident.

In the state of Georgia, if a pet is exposed to a rabid animal, and that pet’s vaccines are out of date, it is recommended that the pet be euthanized immediately. This is to keep the spread of rabies down. If the owner is unwilling to do this, the animal must be kept in complete isolation for four months if a dog or cat, and six months if a ferret. This means no human contact. If a pet is simply overdue for a booster but has prior medical history, the animal should be revaccinated immediately and kept under the owner’s strict control for 45 days. Currently vaccinated animals are to be revaccinated and kept at home under the owner’s control for 45 days. If any of these animals start showing symptoms of rabies, they are to be euthanized immediately. So you see, keeping your animals up to date on their shots could literally save their lives!

Did you know that livestock is also susceptible to rabies? They should also be vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian.

The signs and side effects of rabies can show up anywhere from a few days after exposure to six months after exposure in different species of animals. These signs include:

irritability or aggressiveness
excessive movements or agitation
confusion, bizarre or strange thoughts, or hallucinations
muscle spasms and unusual postures
seizures (convulsions)
weakness or paralysis (when a person cannot move some part of the body)
extreme sensitivity to bright lights, sounds, or touch
The affected animal has a hard time swallowing, which is what creates the tell-tale “foaming a the mouth” symptom. Rabies is not contagious from person-to-person.

Above all, decisions on how to proceed after possible exposure to rabies must be made swiftly and decisively. Contact your county health board or animal control if an event occurs. In Peach County Ga, please see the following page: https://northcentralhealthdistrict.org/contact-us/
They may be contacted at: 478-751-6303.

As always with any preventable disease, the best way to deal with rabies is to prevent it all together. Domesticated animals should have care taken not to come into contact with wildlife. Their rabies shots should be up-to-date at all times. Rabies shots come in a one year or three year option.

All information taken from Georgia Department of Agriculture’s website on rabies information at: http://agr.georgia.gov/Data/Sites/1/media/ag_animalindustry/animal_health/files/Rabies-Manual-April-2018.pdf