Rabid horse in Whitfield County; people receiving treatment - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Rabid horse in Whitfield County; people receiving treatment

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WHITFIELD COUNTY, GA. (WRCB) -- North Georgia health officials say sometime around June 9 a Whitfield County horse owner noticed something different about one of his horses.

"The first thing they noticed was the horse not eating," says Raymond King, the Director of Environmental Health in north Georgia.

The horse was taken to the University of Georgia Vet Clinic where it was immediately put down. A rabies test came back positive.

"The greatest probability is that the horse was exposed from a wild animal," says King.  

However, as a precaution, a group of people who came in contact with the horse is receiving treatment for rabies. Four of them are vets and vet technicians, two others who fed the horse daily are also being treated.

"Several people had their hands in the horse's mouth or had contact with his saliva or mucus of the horse," says King.

The Center for Disease Control says nationally, fewer than three people die from rabies every year and the numbers aren't much different in Georgia for large animals.

"We have anywhere from none to one or two a year and that's in livestock, not just horses," says King.

King says the numbers aren't unusual but it has horse owners like Kenneth Robertson, who lives just down the road, on edge.

"I thought oh, I hope it doesn't come over here," Robertson says. "I called the vet to see the possibility of mine catching it from those and he tells me they'd have to come in contact with them or either get bit by the animal they were bit with."

However, with 70 heads of cattle and two horses Robertson says he likely won't vaccinate his animals anytime soon. "No, I checked into it. Its $25 a shot so that could get kind of expensive," says Robertson.

All the animals in the pasture have since been vaccinated.

Rabies is a neurological disease; symptoms include partial paralysis, odd behavior, and not eating or drinking. If you believe an animal around you is rabid, contact your local vet and health department right away.

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