Health Officials: Start Rabies Treatment Quickly

Local health officials are still on the lookout fora white poodle who bit two people from Bibb County last week.

If they do not find the dog by Thursday night, the state requires that they assume the dog has rabies and the victims must start treatment.

This comes just over two weeks after a rabid fox incident in Bibb County.

Jennifer Jones with the North Central Health District says they see more rabies cases during the summer months because more wild animals migrate to populated areas looking for water.

If found, the missing poodle would be the first animal tested for rabies in Bibb County this month. The Houston County Health Department has already tested four animals; one of them tested positive for the virus.

That animal was a kitten, which the Centers for Disease Control says is more common than a rabid dog. In Georgia, they say raccoons are the biggest carriers.

Christine Buffington with the Houston County Health Department says if someone gets scratched or bitten, they should see their physician or contact their local health department.

The animal will have to be quarantined for ten days, but if someone's pet is suspected of rabies, the health department will let the owner keep the pet at home during that period.

Buffington says the only way to test a living animal for rabies is monitoring their health during the quarantine. If the animal is not alive, they will submit pieces of brain tissue for testing.

Scientists do not have a way to test humans for rabies, which is why Buffington says people should start treatment as soon as possible. That consists of getting five shots over two weeks.

She says, "You have to treat it before the signs and indications occur. If you are experiencing signs of rabies as a human, more often than not it's too late."

According to the CDC, most cases become fatal without treatment, but they say only two or three human deaths occur per year from rabies in the United States.

The Macon-Bibb Health Department asks anyone who has seen a stray poodle in the past week call Donna Cadwell at (478) 749-0121.

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