Local environmental health officials announced today that a raccoon in Gilmer County tested positive for rabies.
     Andrea Wheeler of the Gilmer County Environmental Health Department reported that on January 24, 2009, a raccoon entered a residential yard on Craigtown Road, which is located about two and a half miles off Highway 52 West in Ellijay. The raccoon displayed aggressive behavior as it chased the homeowner’s dog, and then the raccoon ran to the neighbor’s home where the neighbor shot and killed it.  
     The raccoon’s head was sent to the Georgia State Public Health Laboratory and it was tested for rabies on January 29. The lab submitted the positive test result to local health officials on January 30.
     The owner of the dog that had been chased by the raccoon was notified of the test result, and though their dog was current on its rabies vaccination and did not appear to have been exposed to the raccoon during the chase, the owner took the recommended precaution to have the dog revaccinated. The dog will also undergo home observation for a 45-day period.
    There were no human exposures in this case.  
    Health officials continue to remind the public of the importance of maintaining rabies vaccinations in their pets and livestock and to avoid contact with any unfamiliar animal.
     A bite or scratch from a wild or domestic animal for which there is no proof of current rabies vaccination could be potentially deadly. The wound should be washed with soap and water and rinsed for several minutes. Seek medical attention immediately and report the event to Gilmer County Environmental Health Officials at 706-635-6050 with the following details:
  • The geographic location of the incident
  • The type of animal that was involved
  • How the exposure occurred (provoked or unprovoked)
  • The vaccination status of any pets involved
  • Whether the aggressive animal can be safely captured and tested for rabies
For more information about rabies, call the local county Environmental Health Department or log onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at
www.cdc.gov.

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