Public Health Release Confirms Rabies in Gilmer County

Georgia Department of Public Health

ELLIJAY, Ga – An official release from the Georgia Depart of Public Health and its District 1- 2 office has confirmed a case of rabies in Gilmer County.

Specifically, a stray beagle, tested by health officials, tested positive for the virus. Although the beagle was found in the area of Flat Branch and Weeks Road, officials are warning everyone in the county to be wary of stray animals.

Additionally, they are encouraging any in the area who think they or their family have been exposed to the beagle, to call either the Gilmer County Environmental Health office at (706) 635-6050 or the Georgia Poison Control Center at 1 (800) 222-1222 for a free rabies exposure consultation.

The full release given by the department is as follows:

A Gilmer County couple learned today that a stray beagle that had been near their home tested positive for rabies; however, county environmental health officials determined neither the couple nor their pets had been exposed to the virus the dog carried.

“We’re constantly reminding the public to avoid contact with both stray and wild animals,” said Andrea Martin, Gilmer County Environmental Health Manager. “If you don’t know the rabies vaccination status of an animal, you’re putting yourself at risk just by handling it. But in this case, we ascertained that the couple and their pets had not been licked, scratched or bitten by the dog.”

The couple, who lives alone in a residence near the intersection of Flat Branch and Weeks Roads in Ellijay, noticed the beagle on their property on November 25and saw that it exhibited signs of illness, including lethargy and the inability to walk. They tried to tend to the animal but were concerned it could be rabies-infected, so they contacted the local veterinarian hospital.

The dog was prepared for rabies testing and the specimen was sent to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory on November 29. The positive test result was reported to local officials on December 1.

Martin urges anyone living near the intersection of Flat Branch and Weeks Roads, who think it is possible that they or their children could have been exposed to the beagle at any time since November 11, to call either the Gilmer County Environmental Health office at (706) 635-6050 or the Georgia Poison Control Center at 1 (800) 222-1222 for a free rabies exposure consultation.

Anyone who may have lost the beagle should contact officials immediately to be evaluated for possible rabies exposure.

If there are pets in the area that have never been vaccinated or are not currently vaccinated against rabies, they should be vaccinated or given a booster vaccination right away.

“Rabies is nearly 100% fatal in humans,” warned Martin. “Once rabies symptoms are present, it is too late to treat the human victim for rabies. If, however, exposure is known, then rabies post-exposure vaccinations are given to prevent the onset of rabies, saving the person’s life.”


Free Hep C Testing provided in North GA via local Hepatitis C Prevalence Project


NORTH GEORGIA – Free Hepatitis C Testing is provided at county health departments in North Georgia!

As part of a statewide Hepatitis C prevalence initiative in Georgia, the North Georgia Health District is conducting the Hepatitis C Prevalence Project (HCPP), which is providing data on occurrences of Hepatitis C in the health district via free testing to those who are at higher risk of being infected with the virus. This is a two-step process that identifies and supports individuals who are living with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Hepatitis C is a contagious and sometimes persistent infection that can lead to lifelong liver disease. The Hepatitis C virus is mainly transmitted via contact with blood of an infected person. Most people are unaware they are infected because they don’t look or feel sick.

But the virus can be detected through blood tests.

Therefore, the first step in the district’s HCPP process is to identify HCV infected residents through free rapid Hepatitis C virus testing at health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties. These tests can produce a preliminary result in 20 minutes by using a finger stick test.

Anyone who falls within one or more of the following categories is at higher risk for HCV and is urged to take advantage of this free rapid Hepatitis C testing:

  • Born between 1945 and 1965
  • Past or present injection drug use
  • Sharing of any drug equipment
  • HIV positive
  • Blood transfusions prior to 1992
  • Clotting factors prior to 1987
  • Sexual partner of someone who is Hepatitis C positive
  • Tattoo or body piercing in an unprofessional setting

For clients who test positive in the first step, the second step is to confirm the results by drawing a blood sample that will be sent to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for further testing.

Once a positive test result has been confirmed, each health department assists clients in linking to services in their area. Those that qualify can enroll in the Mono Infected Hepatitis C Treatment program at the Whitfield County Health Department.

 All clients are also counseled on the importance of healthy habits (avoiding alcohol and drugs, including many over-the-counter drugs), ways to reduce spread of the virus, getting contacts tested, and getting assistance to reduce the risky behaviors that exposed them to Hepatitis C in the first place. And, though there currently is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, clients are counseled on getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B.

Testing is offered Mondays through Thursdays at all county health departments in the North Georgia Health District. Test days will be affected by health department closings for events such as holidays and hazardous weather.

Cherokee County Health Department:

Canton Office

1219 Univeter Road
Canton, GA 30115
Phone: 770-345-7371

Woodstock Office
7545 North Main St, Suite 100
Woodstock, GA 30188
Phone: 770-928-0133

Fannin County Health Department:

95 Ouida Street
PO Box 387
Blue Ridge, GA 30513

Phone: 706-632-3023

 Gilmer County Health Department:

28 Southside Church Street
Ellijay, GA 30540

Phone: 706-635-4363

 Murray County Health Department:

709 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road
Chatsworth, GA 30705

Phone: 706-695-4585

 Pickens County Health Department:

60 Health Way
Jasper, GA 30143

Phone: 706-253-2821

 Whitfield County Health Department:

800 Professional Boulevard
Dalton, GA 30720

Phone: 706-226-5446


To help meet Hepatitis C Prevalence Project objectives and to ensure that a robust demographic and epidemiological picture can be developed of the true prevalence of Hepatitis C in our district, data will be collected on all tests provided through the HCPP, for both positive and negative results.

 Local county health departments can provide more information about Hepatitis C and its prevention, symptoms and treatment, or log onto the Georgia Department of Public Health website at



Ask the Doc 9/2/16


Dr. Whaley discusses Zika and Kaepernick this week as we visit downtown Blue Ridge.

Featuring Dr. Bill Whaley.
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