Officials from Cherokee County Environmental Health are advising people to stay away from unfamiliar animals after two people were bitten by raccoons last week.

A man was bitten by a raccoon on Wednesday while biking on the Blankets Creek Mountain Bike Trail on Sixes Road in Canton, the North Georgia Health District reported. He stopped to feed the animal, which he thought was injured. The raccoon bit down on his hand, but because the man wore bike gloves, there was no puncture to his skin or nails. Emergency room attendants at Northside Cherokee Hospital determined no further treatment was needed.

The raccoon was not submitted for testing, so it's unknown whether the animal was infected with rabies.

The attack came a day after 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, officials said. Because the animal was not captured or killed, a rabies advisory was issued for the neighborhood.

Health officials warn the public to avoid all unfamiliar animals, especially those in the wild, and pet owners should maintain rabies vaccinations in their pets. If a pet receives an initial one-year vaccine, it can receive a three-year rabies vaccination on the following year.

Rabies is prevalent in wild animals such as raccoons and skunks but can be found in coyotes, foxes, bats, bobcats, and other wild carnivores. Rodents and opossums are rarely found with rabies, but a bite from any wild mammal should cause concern and be reported to a healthcare provider and the local environmental health office.

Children should be warned to avoid contact with wild mammals and any stray dog or cat, and they should report any contact with these animals to an adult right away.

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

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