What animals carry rabies?

Dogs, cats, and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies because they are large enough to survive an attack by a rabid animal, contract rabies, and pose a risk to humans. State law requires all dogs, cats, and ferrets that have bitten or scratched a person to be confined for a 10-day quarantine period to observe the animal for signs of rabies.

Bats that bite or scratch a person or domestic animal are of great concern for potential rabies. Use care and protection to contain the bat and call Animal Control to pick it up for rabies testing. Call us for guidance if you find a bat inside your home.

Small animals and rodents such as squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, mice, gophers, moles, rabbits, and hares seldom survive an attack from a rabid animal and therefore don’t normally carry rabies. A bite or scratch from these animals should be treated, but we don’t take reports or confine these animals for rabies testing.

Carnivores such as raccoons, foxes, skunks, bobcats, coyotes, and wolves are not legal to possess and can have rabies virus without any visible signs. Do not handle these carnivores, and report any possible rabies exposure. We can set Have-a-Heart traps to capture the animal, if necessary.

Livestock such as cattle, horses, mules, donkeys, goats, swine, and sheep are not likely to have rabies, but exposure to saliva from infected livestock is a concern. If the animal is clinically ill with signs suggestive of rabies, treatment and testing must be weighed against the circumstances of exposure. Involve your doctor and the Georgia Poison Control Center in the decision. We don’t normally take reports of livestock bites.

For more information, call the Animal Control bite officer at 770-339-3200.

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