An important warning comes from health officials in North Georgia after a rabid skunk came in contact with a dog for the second time in two months.

The latest incident happened in Murray County. A skunk fought a dog in the Mt. Moriah Road neighborhood in late August and later tested positive for rabies.

"It may start with a headache, stiff neck, nausea, progress to shaking, to inability to swallow, to comatose, to death," said Raymond King with the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Those are just some of the serious symptoms of rabies health officials want you to know about. Once a person or animal shows symptoms of the disease, it's 100% fatal.

Rabies can impact both humans and animals. The disease attacks the nervous system and symptoms include stiff neck, headaches, the inability to swallow food, and drink water.

"If a human begins to develop rabies symptoms, essentially you are dead. There is no treatment for it from that point on," King said.

The latest case happened in Chatsworth on August 30th. A resident said they saw a skunk fighting with their dog in their yard. The skunk was killed by the homeowner, and officials later confirmed it was rabid.

No other pet or human exposure to the skunk was reported, however. Murray county environmental health staff are notifying neighbors of the incident and urging them to ensure their pets are currently vaccinated.

"If a raccoon or skunk comes up to your yard and acting strange, or sick, or tries to bite your animals or you, that's a pretty good chance it has rabies," he said.

Every year, about 40,000 people receive a rabies prevention treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis because they had contact with a potentially rabid animal. More than 90% of all rabid animals reported to CDC each year occur in wildlife.

All residents are reminded to maintain rabies vaccinations in their pets and to avoid contact with unfamiliar animals, both wild and domesticated. Visit your local veterinarian to get a rabies vaccine or contact your local health department to find a location near you.

To learn more about rabies and how to protect against it, call the local county environmental health office. The number for Murray county environmental health is (706) 695-0266, ext. 371.

Additional rabies information is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).