Two Cases of Rabies Reported in Franklin County

Raccoons like this one are nocturnal. One seen in the daytime is likely rabid.

Franklin County Health officials are warning of the dangers of rabid wildlife.

Two rabies cases have been reported in Franklin County over the past month, according to County Environmental Health Director Louis Korff.  

The first happened May 8th  on Nicholas Way, a heavily populated neighborhood in Royston.   Royston Police officers were called to the home on a report of a sick fox lying in the corner of a homeowner’s yard.

Royston Police Chief Donnie Boleman said the fox tried to run, but was not able to stand up and hold its balance.

“The fox showed several characteristics of a rabid animal,” Boleman said. “My Supervisor on duty arrived at the home and made the decision to put the animal down for the safety of the general public.”

“They did what I’ve asked them to do in those cases, which is dispatch the aniaml and then dispose of the carcass,” Korff said. “The road department came and disposed of the carcass, which is what the protocol would be.”

Boleman and Korff said as far as anyone knows, no one came in contact with the rabid fox before it was put down.  Then on Saturday,  May 18, a homeowner in Franklin Springs reported a rabid animal in their yard.

“In the heart of the residential district was a raccoon, staggering around in their front yard,” Korff said. “Once again, it was showing signs of rabies and it was in a densely populated area.  Instead of calling 911, they called me.  I was out of town and by the time I got back to them, it had staggered off into the woods.”

Korff said the raccoon has not been found, but he said as far as he is aware, no one came in contact with the sick animal. Raccoons are nocturnal and a raccoon out in broad daylight is a warning sign the animal is symptomatic for rabies. 

Korff reminds people, especially children, if you see a sick wild animal, such as a fox or raccoon in the day time, don’t go near it.

“I cannot emphasize that enough,” he said. “By all means, avoid the animal. Walk away from it, not towards it.  Children will often times want to try and help a sick or injured animal when they see one.  So parents should be vigilant and make sure children stay away from any sick wild animal.”

The Franklin County Health Department, in conjunction with county veterinarians, held their annual $5 rabies clinic at various locations Saturday.  Korff said he has not yet received the total number of pets that were vaccinated.

So far this year, Korff said in addition to the fox and the skunk, he’s had 13 confrmed cases of rabies in wildlife.