SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A raccoon has tested positive for rabies after being found in Midtown Savannah, the Coastal Health District says.

The raccoon, which was already dead when it was discovered, was in a residential yard near White Bluff Rd. and DeRenne Avenue. The animal was later picked up and brought to a public health lab for rabies testing. According to the Coastal Health District, there was no human contact with the infected raccoon and the only family pet that could have potentially come in contact with the animal was up to date on its rabies vaccine and also received a booster.

The Coastal Health District warns residents to avoid all contact with wild animals and keep pets up to date on rabies vaccinations.

Remember: several animals can carry rabies including raccoons, foxes and bats. The disease can be fatal and is primarily spread by infected animals.

CHD suggests following these tips which can protect you and your family from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines after 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster shot within one year and vaccination every 1-3 years depending on veterinary recommendation and vaccine used.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis.

If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Chatham County Animal Services at 912-652-6575 and the Chatham County Environmental Health office at 912-356-2160.