The Polk County Health Department, Environmental Division, located the rabid bat on July 17.
According to information supplied by the Health Dept.:
Rabies is a fatal virus which attacks the central nervous system. The virus is transferred through saliva when a rabid animal bites/ and or scratches another animal.
Unless immediate treatment is obtained by the victim, the virus penetrates nerve endings, traveling to the brain and saliva glands resulting in the victim’s death. Symptoms can vary or mimic other neurological diseases.
To protect against rabies, the following is a list of necessary precautions that should be taken:
1. All cats and dogs, especially hunting dogs, should be vaccinated against rabies. Not only is it in the law, in protecting pets, one should protect themselves and family, too.
2. Limit contact with stray dogs and cats and avoid wild animals such as raccoons, bats, coyotes, skunks, as they could be carrying the deadly virus.
3. Close off all entries (attics, holes) into the house to prevent a colony of bats from taking up residence.
If one has been exposed to a suspected rabid animal through a bite or scratch, first wash the wound with warm soapy water, then seek immediate medical treatment.
One should next contact the local Health Department. Based on the Georgia rabies control manual, it is the responsibility of the person who has been exposed to report the bite to the local health department.
The health department will investigate the incident the incident and along with poison control, help the victim determine if Rabies Post-Exposure Treatment is necessary.
If the animal is a dog or cat, do not kill the animal. The health department will determine if the animal should be confined for 10 days or if the animal should be euthanised for testing.
If the animal is killed, the health department will not be able to confirm that the animal was rabid, consequently, making it difficult to determine is the victim will require Rabies Post- exposure Treatment.
If the dog or cat is a stray, City Animal Control officers can provide assistance in the capture and confinement of the animal if it within the city limits.
If the animal is wild, the health department will contact the Game Warden who can assist in the capture of the animal.
Rabies is once again alive and well in Georgia and spreading. All residents of Polk County are encouraged to vaccinate their dogs and cats annually against rabies.