A St. Simons Island woman attacked by a raccoon in her driveway has Georgia public health officials warning of the possibility of rabies.
According to the Glynn County Health Department, the woman was bitten and scratched and is in the care of her doctor.
The raccoon has not been caught but authorities said its behavior makes it likely the animal has rabies.
The virus causes aggression, biting, foaming-at-the-mouth, paralysis and usually the death of the animal.
Treatment for rabies involves a series of five shots given over a two week period. It can also include a tetanus shot and a round of antibiotics.
The Glynn County Environmental Health office suggests people take the following precautions to guard against rabies:
- Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
- Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines by four months of age, followed by a booster shot one year later, and another one every year as prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
- Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.
People are urged to call Glynn County Animal Control at 912-554-7500 if they suspect an animal might be rabid.
Wild foxes and bats can also transmit the rabies virus.