Rabies is a viral disease that affects both animals and humans, posing a significant public health concern worldwide.
In the state of Georgia, it is crucial to be aware of the potential risks associated with rabies and understand the importance of vaccination. There have been two animals in Gwinnett county in the past 2 weeks who have bitten humans and tested positive for rabies.
Outcome of Infection
Rabies is transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal, with dogs, cats, bats, raccoons, and foxes being common carriers. Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal. Early signs may include fever, headache, and general discomfort, which can progress to confusion, hallucinations, and paralysis. Unusual behavior, aggression, and excessive salivation are also possible.
In Georgia, proactive vaccination is the key to preventing rabies. Here is the recommended vaccine schedule for both animals and humans:
Animals: Pet owners should ensure that their dogs, cats, and ferrets are vaccinated against rabies. The first vaccination is usually given at 3-4 months of age, followed by a booster shot at 1 year. After the initial series, regular revaccination every 1-3 years is necessary, as recommended by the veterinarian.
If a person is bitten or scratched by an animal suspected of having rabies, immediate medical attention is crucial. Post-exposure prophylaxis with rabies immunoglobulin (cost > $25,000) and a series (4) of rabies vaccine injections given over a 14-day period is necessary to prevent infection.
Individuals at higher risk, such as veterinary personnel, animal control officers, and travelers to rabies-endemic areas, should consider pre-exposure vaccination. This involves two doses of the vaccine administered one week apart before ever being exposed to rabies. Pre-exposure vaccination allows the patient to avoid needing the immunoglobulin immediately, but they still need to seek treatment to receive the final two rabies vaccines.
Rabies is a serious concern in Georgia, emphasizing the importance of proactive vaccination and prompt medical attention in case of exposure. If you feel you may be at risk get vaccinated. Pre-exposure prophylaxis is a two dose series and eliminates the need for the immune globulin should you get bitten. Here at Highland Travel Medicine we can provide the vaccine for $420 per dose with a $30 administration fee. Please call ahead 404)815-1957 to ensure vaccine supply before you come.