A bat in the Forsyth Park area of downtown Savannah has tested positive for rabies. The Chatham County Health Department’s Environmental Health office reminds all residents and visitors to avoid contact with wild animals and ensure pets are properly vaccinated against rabies.
The bat was caught by a domestic cat inside a home near Forsyth Park and was brought to a local veterinarian. The veterinarian notified the Health Department, who then tested the bat for rabies. Fortunately, the domestic cat is current on its rabies vaccination. The resident had recently received post-exposure rabies treatment and is not considered at risk. The resident is working with a wildlife removal company to ensure any other bats are removed from the property.
This incident is a reminder that several species of wild animals in our area can carry rabies, including raccoons, foxes, and bats. Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals. Following these tips can protect you and your family from rabies:
- Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
- Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines after 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster shot within one year and vaccination every 1-3 years depending on veterinary recommendation and vaccine used.
- 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.
Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis. If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Chatham County Animal Services at 912-652-6575 and the Chatham County Environmental Health office at 912-356-2160.