New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds bats are responsible for roughly 70% of rabies deaths among those infected with the rabies virus in the U.S.
"There has been a shift in the last 80 years from dog rabies being the number one killer of people, to wildlife, specifically bats," says CDC Veterinarian Emily Pieracci. She says that's largely due to pet vaccinations.
In Georgia, she says the highest risk of rabies is among bats and raccoons. Pieracci warns Georgians to avoid contact with wildlife, especially those bats and raccoons. But she also says, "if a raccoon were to bite a skunk or a fox or an unvaccinated cat or dog, those animals could potentially be at risk of getting rabies, and they could then transfer it to people.
Pieracci says if you are bitten or scratched by one of these rabid animals, get treated right away. She says rabies is nearly always deadly if people don’t get rabies post-exposure prophylaxis--OR PEP--before symptoms start.