Animal bites on the rise in Georgia


The Georgia Poison Center is seeing more and more people bitten by animals. The experts there are also recommending more people get rabies shots.

If rabies is untreated, it's deadly for humans.

Gaylord Lopez, the director of the Georgia Poison Center, said animal bites are up 40 percent since 2012.

"We’re averaging over six animal bites a day, it's staggering," said Lopez.

Just because you’re bitten doesn’t mean you need a rabies shot. Some animals don't carry rabies. The Georgia Poison Center recommends the shot in about 20 percent of cases.

Lopez urges anyone who is bitten to call the Georgia Poison Center. Representatives will ask you questions and follow a protocol to determine if the rabies shots are recommended. Lopez said to especially take action after unprovoked bites.

"An animal that may be unusually aggressive, a little bit wild, coming to bite you out of the blue, those are the animals we worry about," said Lopez. "If that animal is displaying signs and symptoms and ends up testing positive and you don’t get treated, you’ll die. It's as simple as that.”

People in Georgia most often get rabies shots because of interactions with bats.

Ymir Vigfusson and his four children needed to get the shots after he woke up to a bat in their house.

“It wasn’t even in the bedroom, it was in an adjacent corridor, but because the door was open, that’s enough to possibly warrant exposure," he said.

They didn't even know if they had been bitten, but took no chances.

They later found the bat and it tested negative.

"I’m just really happy that nothing bad came of it," said Vigfusson.

“Here’s the thing with bats,” Lopez said, “they leave such a small mark that you don’t even realize you’ve been bitten."

He said in many calls with bats, they will recommend people get the shots.

Gone are the days of the painful shots to the abdomen. Now the vaccine is a series of shots over a few weeks in your arm. Lopez said there is another shot given early on, ideally near the site of the bite. Without insurance, shots can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.

We have some more information about rabies from the CDC HERE and HERE.

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