Ra­bid an­i­mals bite 3

The Covington News - - LOCAL - JOHN RUCH news@cov­news.com Michelle Kim, Kayla Robins con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

Three people were bit­ten by ra­bid wild an­i­mals in sep­a­rate Rock­dale in­ci­dents in the past cou­ple of weeks, ac­cord­ing to the Rock­dale County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, which is warn­ing res­i­dents to stay alert for a pos­si­ble ra­bies out­break.

Neigh­bor­ing Henry County is see­ing a ra­bies out­break as well, with 10 re­cent cases, ac­cord­ing to the an­i­mal con­trol di­rec­tor there. One neigh­bor­hood in Henry County’s cen­ter was placed un­der an in­for­mal quar­an­tine last week due to ra­bid an­i­mals.

The Rock­dale cases in­volved foxes and a rac­coon. Two fox-bite cases hap­pened on St. Ge­orge Place in Cony­ers, near Sig­man Road and 138, and in the Pem­broke sub­di­vi­sion off Ga. Hwy. 212 on the south side. The rac­coon-bite case hap­pened on Sax­ony Drive on the south side.

The south side fox-bite vic­tim was a child who was bit­ten while out­side in her back­yard, ac­cord­ing to a RCSO re­port. The fox re­port­edly came up to the child and bit her on her hand. Au­thor­i­ties cap­tured the fox and tested it for ra­bies.

In the Sax­ony Drive case, a RCSO deputy killed the rac­coon with a shot­gun af­ter it was seen act­ing strangely near chil­dren. Ac­cord­ing to a RCSO re­port, the rac­coon “ap­peared to be very sick and had mu­cous com­ing from his eyes.” The an­i­mal was “hunched up and scour­ing around and be[ing] very ag­gres­sive in na­ture,” the re­port continues. The deputy shot it once, and af­ter it con­tin­ued to “scour around” the deputy shot the an­i­mal again.

Ac­cord­ing to RCSO, the county’s An­i­mal Care and Con­trol Depart­ment has re­ports of other pos­si­bly ra­bid an­i­mals, but due to ex­pense, an­i­mals are only killed and tested if they bite some­one.

Ear­lier in the month, an­other fox at­tacked a res­i­dent on Flat Shoals Road near the Field­stone sub­di­vi­sion on June 9. Ra­bies test­ing, which is done us­ing fluid around the brain, was un­able to be car­ried out due to dam­age to the an­i­mal’s brain.

A res­i­dent also re­ported an­other fox at­tack at the same ad­dress on May 30, but test­ing was not per­formed on the an­i­mal be­cause there was re­port­edly no break in the res­i­dent’s skin.

Last year, Rock­dale county re­ported three racoons and one fox that tested pos­i­tive; the fox bit a hu­man, the rest came into con­tact with dogs. In 2012, four racoons tested pos­i­tive af­ter com­ing into con­tact with dogs.

The scale of the cur­rent out­break in Henry County is un­usual, said Gerri Yoder, the di­rec­tor of that county’s An­i­mal Care and Con­trol Depart­ment.

“I can’t tell you the last time we had 10 ra­bies cases,” she said, adding that an­other an­i­mal, a fox, was be­ing tested to­day. None of those cases have been close to the Rock­dale line, she said.

How­ever, “It’s not a cause for panic,” Yoder said, just for ex­tra aware­ness.

In neigh­bor­ing New­ton County, an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cials re­port two con­firmed cases, a rel­a­tively low num­ber. Both were skunks - one in Jan­uary and one in March.

Ra­bies is a vi­ral dis­ease that is al­most al­ways fa­tal if un­treated, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion. In­fected an­i­mals can trans­mit the dis­ease to hu­mans and other an­i­mals through their saliva when they bite. How­ever, ra­bies is pre­ventable if a bite vic­tim is vac­ci­nated soon af­ter ex­po­sure.

Any mam­mal can carry ra­bies, but it is mostly com­monly found in wild foxes, rac­coons, skunks, bats and coy­otes, ac­cord­ing to the CDC. Ra­bid an­i­mals may at­tack hu­mans for no ap­par­ent rea­son.

If you see an an­i­mal act­ing strangely or ag­gres­sively, keep away from it and re­treat to a safe place, then call 911 so that deputies and An­i­mal Con­trol can deal with it. Any­one who is bit­ten by an an­i­mal should seek im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion. Own­ers of dogs and cats should make sure their pets are vac­ci­nated against ra­bies.

Yoder noted that it is not un­usual for a wild an­i­mal to be out in the day­time or to be near houses. Au­thor­i­ties should be called only if it is be­hav­ing in an ob­vi­ously dis­ori­ented or sick man­ner, or if it seems un­usu­ally tame or ag­gres­sive.

For more in­for­ma­tion about ra­bies, see cdc.gov/ra­bies

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