Protecting Against Rabies

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By Greg Gullberg
April 2, 2013

Valdosta, GA - In the Springtime, the days are longer and more people are outdoors with their pets. And that makes dog owners like Joey Wood and his fiancee Ashley worry about their six month old puppy named Shimoda being around other animals. They worry he could catch rabies. That's why they got him vaccinated right away.

"A lot of other animals are going to be running around too so it's important that you keep your dogs vaccinated so that if anything does happen they'll be safe," said Joey Wood.

At least two South Georgians were attacked last year by wild animals that tested positive for rabies. And while rabid animal attacks are relatively rare on humans, it's more common against pets. And studies show more than 90% of human rabies cases around the world come from dog bites.

"If you are bitten by an animal then you need to receive medical care as soon as possible to reduce the risk of being infected with rabies. It's 100% preventable if you receive medical care quickly," said Courtney Sheeley, spokeswoman for the South Health District.

Rabies can be found in the saliva of many animals, including bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Doctors say you should seek medical care immediately after being bitten by an animal you suspect is infected.

Health officials say as the months get warmer, the number of confirmed cases will rise. And the easiest way to protect you and your pet against rabies is by taking an annual trip to the vet to get your furry friend vaccinated.

As humans and animals become more active outdoors this time of year, it's important to remember a rabies vaccination.

WCTV will bring you more on how to protect yourself and your pets against rabies tonight on Eyewitness News.

Press Release: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.