The News: Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and park workers at Gwinnett’s Graves Park contained a rabid raccoon Friday. The park workers noticed the animal acting in a “strange manner” and kept it contained until animal welfare workers arrived.

Be Careful: Gwinnett officials are urging residents to be careful around wild or stray animals. The principle carriers of rabies are some insect-eating bats and wild carnivores, such as raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes. Twelve rabies cases were confirmed in Gwinnett County in 2017, seven in 2016, and four in 2015.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rabies virus attacks the central nervous system and is almost always fatal if untreated.

Symptoms of Rabies: Early symptoms of rabies in people include fever, headache and general weakness or discomfort. If you have been bitten or scratched by an animal that is suspected to have rabies, preventative treatment is available.

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, or have trouble moving or move in a stiff, odd way. You should report any animal that is acting unusual to your local animal control center.

Tips to stay safe from rabies: County officials are offering the following tips to protect yourself and your family from the rabies virus:

  • 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.
  • 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.

And don’t forget: If you are a pet owner, you should be keeping your pets current on their rabies vaccination. According to the National Association of State Public 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.