COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Four rabid raccoons have recently been caught in Columbia County, and the Health Department is about to test a fifth.

The racoons have all been caught in different areas of Columbia County since the beginning of May.

From Rhodes Farm subdivision in Martinez, to the Canterbury Farms subdivision in Grovetown, and the Lamkin Woods and Cottonwood subdivisions in Appling – all of the racoons were found in the daylight and appeared to be sick.

“I think that’s a little bit higher than we would normally see,” said Andrea Frazier, the Environmental Health County Manager for Columbia County Health Department. “I’m not surprised, quite frankly, the areas that we’re seeing. Columbia County is very diverse.”

Frazier also told us this number of rabid raccoons being captured in populated areas could be due to the growth and development in the county.

“Rabies is endemic in wild animals in the state of Georgia. So that means that it’s always there, but usually the animals always stay in the woods or in the forest and don’t interact with people much,” she said. “But, since they are building in Columbia County, I think some of these animals are being forced into neighborhoods or areas where we normally wouldn’t see them.”

One Columbia County woman who was bitten by a rabid animal when she was a child, wants others to learn from her experience.

“It was a cat that came and it was acting a little off, it seemed a little sick, it didn’t seem well,” said Kathryn Dunstan. “And I always help animals, and so when it came close enough that I reached to it, it actually lunged and bit my hand.”

Dunstan says the worst part was the treatment afterwards.

“I got a lot of fluid shot into my hand because that’s where the bite was, and I got two in the top side of my rump, and for the next four weeks I had to have alternating shots on either sides of my arms,” she said.

She’s urging you to get your pets vaccinated, not to leave food out to attract wild animals and not to go near any animal you see acting strange.

“If it’s something that isn’t leaving your area, call someone else to come in and help you with it because you don’t want to go through the vaccination,” Dunstan said. “You don’t the risk, you don’t want the risk for your children and your animals.”

Columbia County Animal Services will be having two rabies clinics on June 24th and July 8th. The June 24th clinic will be at 1940 William Few Parkway and the July 8th clinic will be at 575 W Milledgeville Rd. in Harlem.

Vaccines will be $5.

If you come across any animal acting out of the ordinary, call animal services.