GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Division and the Gwinnett County Health Department are advising residents to use caution and avoid animals behaving in unusual ways after a fox tested positive for the rabies virus.
According to officials, two children were attacked by the fox in the Dolostone Way/Austin Crossing area in Dacula last week. The fox was contained by Gwinnett Animal Welfare and Enforcement on the same day. The fox was tested for rabies and the results came back positive.
The children were immediately taken to the hospital following the attack and are healthy, Alan Davis, the Division Director of Animal Welfare and Enforcement.
According to Davis, the fox was reported as acting lethargic and in a state of 'drunkenness' by several residents who saw the animal following the attack. Davis adding that they have not received any additional reports in the area of other animals appearing to have rabies, but they are asking residents to be cautious.
"We really want to make sure that pet owners are talking to their animal's vets and making sure that they are up to date on the rabies vaccinations," said Davis.
According to the National Association of State Health Veterinarians, unvaccinated dogs and cats exposed to a rabid animal must be strictly quarantined for four months and vaccinated one month prior to being released.
As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rabies virus attacks the central nervous system and is almost always fatal in humans if untreated. Early symptoms of rabies in people include fever, headache and general weakness or discomfort. If you or someone you know has been bitten or scratched by any stray animals or an animal that is suspected to have rabies, preventive treatment for rabies is necessary.
If you believe you have been exposed, you're asked to contact the Gwinnett County Health Department at 770-339-4260 and ask for the epidemiologist on call. To report the animal and have it picked up, call the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Bite Office at 770-339-3200 ext. 5576; after hours, contact Dispatch non-emergency at 770-513-5700.
The animal shelter is also offering the following tips to residents concerning protection 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
- Rabid animals may act tame. They may also display strange or unusual behavior. They may act aggressive, avoid food and water, foam at the mouth, have trouble moving or move in a stiff, odd way. Stay away from any unknown animals, especially wildlife. Report any animal acting unusually to Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement.
- Stay away from wild, sick, hurt or dead animals. Do not pick up or move sick or hurt animals.
- 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
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