Gwinnett County requires a current rabies tag for all cats and dogs. All pet owners should ensure that their pets, including indoor pets, are current on the rabies vaccination.
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. The Centers for Disease Control warns that unvaccinated animals or animals not current on their rabies vaccination that have been exposed to rabies should be euthanized immediately or strictly quarantined based upon the guidelines below, as per the Georgia Department of Public Health 2018 Rabies Compendium update.
- Unvaccinated dogs, cats and ferrets: Placed on strict isolation (under the authority of the local rabies control agency, Gwinnett County Animal Welfare & Enforcement – Animal Shelter) for 4 months for dogs and cats and 6 months for ferrets. Vaccine to be given upon entry to isolation or 1 month prior to release.
- Dogs and cats only who are overdue on their Booster Vaccinations, who have had at least one vaccination in their lifetime should be vaccinated immediately, kept under owners control, and observed at home for 45 days for signs of rabies. (For ferrets, refer to #1 above).
- Dogs and cats ONLY without any documentation of a prior vaccine will be placed on strict isolation (under the authority of the local rabies control agency, Gwinnett County Animal Welfare & Enforcement – Animal Shelter) for 4 months for dogs and cats and 6 months for ferrets. Vaccine to be given upon entry to isolation or 1 month prior to release. If there is a strong indication that the animal was previously vaccinated, the Progressive Serological Monitoring (PSM) Protocol may be followed.
The PSM Protocol includes;
a.) Owner has animal evaluated by a Vet within 96 hours of exposure to a rabid animal. Animal will be placed under strict isolation until PSM Protocol is completed.
b.) Vet reports animal exposure to Public Health, GRN.
c.) Vet draws animal’s bold and collects serum for serology testing ( Day 0).
d.) Vet administers rabies Vaccine Booster.
e.) Vet draws animal’s blood and collects serum for serology testing (Day 5-7).
f.) Rabies Epidemiologists and the State Public Health Veterinarian will interpret the results of these tests in conjunction with the laboratory’s own data regarding testing performance. If the rabies Epidemiologists and the Public Health Veterinarian determine that the lab results demonstrate an anamnestic response, the animal may complete a 45-day observation at home.
- Animals currently vaccinated will be revaccinated immediately and observed at home under owner’s control for 45 days.
Please Note: If at any time an animal exposed (via bite, open wound including scratches, or mucous membranes) to rabid animal develops clinical symptoms suggestive of rabies, regardless of vaccine status, the animal should be euthanized and tested for rabies.
Report any animal acting unusually or if a bite or scratch occurs, call Animal Welfare and Enforcement at 770.339.3200 during shelter hours or the after-hours non-emergency dispatch at 770.513.5700.
Protection from rabies:
- Ensure pets get rabies vaccine regularly
- Keep pets on your property
- Don’t leave garbage or pet food outside; it may attract wild or stray animals
- Stay away from wild, sick, hurt, or dead animals; don’t pick up or move sick or hurt animals.
- Remember it’s illegal and dangerous to keep wild animals like raccoons, rabbits, and foxes as pets
- Teach your children not to go near, tease, or play with wild animals or strange dogs and cats
Bats are of great concern for potential rabies. Use care and protection to contain any bats found indoors and contact Animal Welfare for guidance rabies testing.
Rabies can be transmitted from an infected animal to humans. Prompt medical attention and treatment for rabies exposure may be needed after an exposure to an infected animal. Without treatment, rabies infections in humans are nearly 100 percent fatal.
Small animals and rodents such as squirrels, chipmunks, rats, mice, moles, and rabbits 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.
Those with bites or scratches from stray animals should scrub the wound with antiseptic soap and water, flush the wound, and seek immediate medical attention. If possible, the animal should be captured and tested if rabies is suspected.
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 veterinarian and the Georgia Poison Control Center in the decision.
The Gwinnett County Health Department has additional information regarding the impact of rabies on humans and can be reached at 770.339.4260.