Residents of the River Chase neighborhood near Woodstock are urged to take precautions after a racoon attacked and bit a person Tuesday, according to Cherokee County Environmental Health officials.

A person was bitten by a raccoon that showed a "strong probability" it was rabid, at River Chase Drive off West Wiley Bridge Road near Woodstock, according to the North Georgia Health District. The raccoon was not captured or killed.

Officials urge residents to take these necessary precautions:

• Report any sightings of a raccoon in that area to Animal Control at 678-493-4080.

• Avoid all contact with raccoons and other wild mammals. If you are bitten or scratched, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Rabies is usually fatal without preventive anti-rabies treatments.

• Children should be taught to avoid contact with wild mammals and to report any such contact to a parent or another adult who is in charge immediately. Remind children that wild animals are not pets and that wild mammals with rabies may sometimes appear tame and friendly, or they could appear sick.

• If bitten or scratched by a raccoon or other wild mammal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water for several minutes and then apply a skin disinfectant. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Report the bite to Environmental Health at 770-479-0444.

Cherokee County Environmental Health staff are canvassing the area with a printed advisory for residents to watch for this raccoon and others that could potentially be rabies-infected.

Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. In the United States, rabies is mostly found in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. However, in many other countries, dogs still carry rabies, and most rabies deaths in people around the world are caused by dog bites.

Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating pets, staying away from wildlife, and seeking medical care after potential exposures before symptoms start.

For more information about rabies and prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html.

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