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Rabid animals found in Lamar County

The State Laboratory has confirmed that two foxes have tested positive for rabies. Health officials are urging residents of the area to stay away from wild or stray animals that appear to be unafraid of humans and those that exhibit behaviors that are unusual of their characters. All Lamar County residents are encouraged to take precautions to protect their families and pets against rabies by learning signs of rabies and vaccinating pets. Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals that is most often spread through the bite of an animal that is infected with the disease. Rabies infects the central nervous system, causing encephalopathy (a disease of the brain) and ultimately death. Early symptoms of the disease include fever and headache. As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms appear and may include insomnia, confusion, hallucinations, a slight or partial paralysis, hyper salivation, or difficulty swallowing. ’If you notice a wild nocturnal animal moving about in the daytime and the animal appears to show no fear of people or the animal seems to behave in a sick or abnormal way, the animal may be infected with rabies,’ said Todd Driver, Lamar County Environmental Health Manager. ‘Therefore, people should avoid the animal and report it to the local health department or animal control.’ Treatment and prevention practices for rabies have proven to be almost 100 percent effective when initiated promptly. Please report any bite, scratch, or other contact with a wild animal to your local environmental health office. ’It is important to remember that although rabies occurs more often in wildlife, domestic animals like the family dog or cat can become infected as well. I strongly encourage owners to have all pets vaccinated to prevent rabies,’ said Driver. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of rabies cases reported annually occur in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats. Since July 2008, Lamar County has submitted 12 specimens to the State Lab and 3 have been confirmed positive for rabies. A raccoon tested positive in July of 2008 and there have been two foxes test positive since June 17th of this year. For more information about rabies, please contact Lamar County Environmental Health at 770-358-1483.

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