LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- The heat is rising and, unfortunately, so are reports of attacks by rabid animals.
The Gwinnett County health department is warning residents of yet another incident - this one in Lawrenceville - involving an animal confirmed to have rabies.
Authorities said that on Tuesday, a woman was attacked by a rabid fox in the 300 block of Swanson Drive in the northern part of the city.
After the attack, the woman immediately sought medical attention and the fox was captured. Tissue samples sent to the state lab tested positive for the infection on Wednesday.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the main carriers of rabies are bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. So far there have been five confirmed cases in Gwinnett for 2017. That's compared to a total of seven cases for all of 2016.
It's far from an uncommon problem in Georgia as summer nears, but nonetheless, residents should take extra precautions - for themselves and their pets. Pet owners should ensure their pets - even those who reside indoors - should be up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
How you can help protect yourself and others from rabies?
- Make sure your pets get their rabies shots regularly.
- Keep your pets on your property.
- Do not leave garbage or pet food outside. Food left out may attract wild or stray animals.
- Stay away from wild, sick, hurt, or dead animals. Do not pick up or move sick or hurt animals. If you find a wild, sick, or hurt animal, call Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement at 770-513-5700 or 770-339-3200.
- Do not keep wild animals like raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes as pets. It is dangerous and also illegal.
- Teach your children not to go near, tease, or play with wild animals or strange dogs and cats.
The CDC warns that unvaccinated animals or animals not current on their rabies vaccination that have been exposed to rabies should be euthanized immediately or strictly quarantined for 6 months and vaccinated a month before being released.
A major reason for that: rabies can be transmitted from an infected animals to humans. Anyone bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid animal should scrub the wound with antiseptic soap and water, flush it and seek medical attention. Prompt treatment will likely be needed - otherwise, rabies is almost 100 percent fatal.
The Gwinnett County Health Department is available to answer questions regarding human rabies infection at 770-339-4260. Contact the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Bite Office at 770-339-3200 ext. 5576 or call the after-hours non-emergency dispatch at 770-513-5700.
Welfare and enforcement is also partnering with Planned PEThood, Animal Alliance of Georgia, Canine Pet Rescue and Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation to offer free vaccines for rabies and other diseases while supplies last on Saturday, June 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Best Friend Park, Jessie Marie Scott Pavilion, located at 6224 Jimmy Carter Boulevard in Norcross, Ga.