A Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement officer responded on May 30 to a report of a woman attacked by a rabid fox in the 300 block of Swanson Drive in Lawrenceville.
After the attack, the woman immediately sought medical attention. The fox was captured soon after; tissue samples sent to the state lab tested positive for rabies on May 31. The Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Division and the Gwinnett County Health Department advise residents to use caution and avoid animals behaving in unusual ways.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, principal carriers of rabies are bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Thus far in 2017, Gwinnett County has had five confirmed cases of rabies. In 2016, seven rabies cases were confirmed in animals in Gwinnett County, four in 2015, and 12 in 2014.
All pet owners should ensure that their pets, including indoor pets, are current on the rabies vaccination. CDC warns that unvaccinated animals or animals not current on their rabies vaccination that have been exposed to rabies should be euthanized immediately or strictly quarantined for six months and vaccinated a month before being released.
Rabies can be transmitted from an infected animal to humans. Prompt medical attention and treatment for rabies exposure may be needed after an exposure to an infected animal. Without treatment, rabies infection in humans is nearly 100 percent fatal. The Gwinnett County Health Department is available to answer questions regarding the impact of rabies on humans and can be reached at 770-339-4260.
If you or your child have been bitten or scratched by any stray animals, or if you know of anyone handling an animal possibly infected with rabies, scrub the wound with antiseptic soap and water, flush the wound, and seek immediate medical attention. If possible, the animal should be captured and tested. Please contact the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Bite Office at 770-339-3200 ext. 5576, or call the after-hours non-emergency dispatch at 770-513-5700.
Animal Welfare and Enforcement is partnering with Planned PEThood, Animal Alliance of Georgia, Canine Pet Rescue and Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation to offer free vaccines for rabies and other diseases while supplies last on Saturday, June 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Best Friend Park, Jessie Marie Scott Pavilion, located at 6224 Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Norcross.
What does a rabid animal look like?
Rabid animals may act tame. They may also display strange or unusual behavior. They may act aggressive, avoid food and water, foam at the mouth, or have trouble moving or move in a stiff, odd way. Stay away from any unknown animals, especially wildlife. Report any animal acting unusually to Gwinnett County Police Animal Welfare and Enforcement at 770-513-5700.
How can I help protect myself and my family from rabies?
• Make sure your pets get their rabies shots regularly.
• Keep your pets on your property.
• Do not leave garbage or pet food outside. Food left out may attract wild or stray animals.
• Stay away from wild, sick, hurt, or dead animals. Do not pick up or move sick or hurt animals. If you find a wild, sick, or hurt animal, call Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement at 770-513-5700 or 770-339-3200.
• Do not keep wild animals like raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes as pets. It is dangerous and also illegal.
• Teach your children not to go near, tease, or play with wild animals or strange dogs and cats.