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Dogs euthanized after rabid raccoon found in McDuffie

A raccoon, which came into contact with three dogs off Cedar Rock Road in McDuffie County recently, was rabid, according to local health department officials.

Tim Mosley, an environmental health specialist IV with the McDuffie County Health Department sent out a press release on Monday confirming and informing the public about the rabid raccoon case - the first reported in the county this year.

The raccoon was sent to the Georgia Public Health Lab for rabies testing, Mr. Mosley said. Results of those tests came back conclusive for rabies two days later on July 11.

Since the three dogs that were exposed to the rabid raccoon on Wednesday, July 9, did not have up-to-date current rabies vaccinations, they had to be euthanized by Dr. Darryl Wester, a local veterinarian, Mr. Mosley said. The dogs were of a mixed bulldog breed, he added.

All three dogs came into contact with the rabid raccoon while in the vicinity of Cedar Rock and Twin Oak roads, Mr. Mosley said.

Any contact by people or pets with wild animals should be reported to the McDuffie County Health Department at 706-595-1740, Mr. Mosley said.

Persons should refrain from coming into contact with a wild animal, such as a raccoon, said Kathy Linebarger, county health department nurse manager.

"They should move away from the animal and not approach it," Mrs. Linebarger said.

Rabies, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, is a disease caused by the rabies virus. It can take up to several weeks, or even several years, for people to show symptoms after getting infected with rabies. Normally, people begin to show signs of the disease within one to three months after being infected.

Early signs of rabies include a fever or headache - changing quickly to nervous system signs - such as confusion, sleepiness or agitation. Once a person comes down with such symptoms, death usually follows.

A person who has been bitten by any animal, especially a wild animal, should seek medical attention right away.

The CDC offers these helpful tips to pet owners:

- Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats and ferrets. This requirement is important not only to keep your pet from getting rabies, but also to provide a barrier of protection for you, if your animal is bitten by a rabid wild animal.

- Keep your pet under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek a veterinarian, immediately.

- Call your local animal control office to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood. They may be unvaccinated and could become infected by the disease.

- Spay or neuter your pet to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.

Web posted on Thursday, July 17, 2008

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