Increased Temperatures Increases Rabies Exposure Risk

As Weather Warms, Residents Reminded to Never Approach Wild Animals

Spring is right around the corner, and with warmer weather comes an increase in the potential to encounter wild animals. South Health District’s Environmental Health Department reminds residents that many wild animals that are native to South Georgia – including raccoons, foxes, and bats – can carry rabies.

As people begin to spend more time outdoors there is a higher likelihood to come into contact with a wild animal. Public health wants to remind residents to never approach wild animals at any time and to always stay aware of your surroundings.

Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals.  SHD’s 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.

By following these guidelines and staying vigilant, residents can help protect themselves and their families from the risks associated with rabies exposure during warmer weather when encounters with wild animals are more likely.

“We want to encourage everyone to steer clear of wild animals and keep an eye out for them when spending time outdoors,” says Chris Calhoun, South Health District Environmental Health Director. “If you ever find yourself bitten by an animal, don’t hesitate to seek medical help right away. You should also contact Animal Control and your local health department. Stay safe this spring by staying aware of your surroundings and not going near any wild animals.”

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 report the incident to your local health department and Animal Control.