Rabies precautions especially important in warmer months

NASHVILLE – Warmer weather increases the possibility of coming across wild animals – many of which can carry rabies – so residents are encouraged to be especially vigilant during summer months. Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals.

Several species of wild animals that are native to South Georgia – including raccoons, foxes, and bats – can carry rabies.

The Berrien County Environmental Health office offers these tips to protect you and your family from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines by four months of age, followed by a booster shot one year later, and another one every year as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

Rabies virus is transmitted through direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal.

People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal.

It is also possible, but rare, for people to get rabies from non-bite exposures, which can include scratches, abrasions, or open wounds that are exposed to saliva or other potentially infectious material from a rabid animal.

Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis. 

If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact City of Nashville Animal Control at (229) 686-2091 and the Berrien County Environmental Health office at 229-686-1770.