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Puppy tests positive for rabies in Whitfield County

Because the rabies virus can be present in the saliva of an animal before it shows symptoms of rabies, health authorities need to talk to anyone who had physical contact with the puppy since June 27 to evaluate their need for preventative rabies treatments. (Image: MGN)

Health authorities in Whitfield County want to hear from anyone who recently came into contact with a puppy who tested positive for rabies.

The puppy was too young for a rabies vaccine when a skunk bit it in the head several weeks ago. The Whitfield County Health Department says the puppy started to become ill on July 7th. They want anyone who may have come into contact with the puppy since June 27th to contact the health department for an evaluation.

The puppy is a cream-colored poodle-mix and had been in the area of the 900 block of Dawnville Road in Whitfield County.

Anyone who came into physical contact with the puppy should contact Whitfield County Environmental Health at 706-272-2005 or the North Georgia Health District at 706-529-5757, extension 1161.

Because the rabies virus can be present in the saliva of an animal before it shows symptoms of rabies, health authorities need to talk to anyone who had physical contact with the puppy since June 27 to evaluate their need for preventative rabies treatments.

Once symptoms of rabies start to develop in a human, there is no cure and death is almost certain. If anyone thinks they may have been exposed to rabies, seek medical care at once.

In addition to this rabid skunk, health authorities report there have been three additional rabid skunks in Whitfield County this year.

The rabies virus is transmitted in the saliva of the rabid animal through bites that break the skin or by exposure of the saliva to mucous membranes of the nose or eyes. Puppies lick, gnaw and chew by their nature, so a lick to a fresh wound would also be an exposure to rabies.

Health authorities need to talk with anyone who had these kinds of exposures to the saliva of the puppy within the two weeks before it started to become ill on July 7. Simply being around the puppy or handling it would not require rabies treatments. Contact with the saliva is the most important factor in transmitting rabies.

Children should be warned to avoid any contact with stray dogs, cats and wild animals such as skunks, raccoons, bats, bobcats, coyotes, foxes and other wild carnivores. Bites from any of these animals need immediate medical attention. Be certain all pets are currently vaccinated against rabies. Livestock are also susceptible to rabies and can be vaccinated by a veterinarian.

More information about rabies may be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website here.

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