Rabid Beaver Bites Girl Swimming in Georgia Lake

We often hear of dogs, raccoons, and foxes getting rabies, but seldom (if ever) do we hear about a beaver contracting the fatal virus. Any mammal can get rabies, including people, but wildlife makes up the majority of the cases.

Rabies in Wildlife

To put it in perspective, wild animals accounted for 92.7 percent of reported cases of rabies in 2018. Bats were the most frequently reported rabid wildlife species (33 percent of all animal cases during 2018), followed by raccoons (30.3 percent), skunks (20.3 percent), and foxes (7.2 percent). That’s according to the CDC.

Beaver Bite

Last week a young girl was attacked by a 55-pound rabid beaver in Gainesville, Georgia, while she was swimming at a nearby lake with her father, the Associated Press reported. The young girl was swimming in Lake Lanier on private property when the animal bit her on the leg. Her father reportedly intervened and ended up killing the beaver.

Beaver Kits

Authorities noted at the time that there were no signs of baby beavers or “kits” in the area that the beaver might have been trying to defend. They went on to term the creature as “just an otherwise angry beaver.” But that apparently wasn’t the case, and thank goodness they had the body.

The beaver’s remains were taken to the state lab for rabies testing, and the young girl was transported to a nearby hospital. The beaver was later diagnosed as having had rabies. While there was no immediate information available about the girl’s condition, she will surely be placed on a treatment program for the bite.

Rabies Post-Exposure Prophylaxis

The CDC notes that post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) consists of a dose of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) and rabies vaccine given on the day of the rabies exposure and then a dose of vaccine given again on days 3, 7, and 14. County officials are also asking animal owners to ensure their pets are vaccinated against rabies.

If you’re thinking 55 pounds is awfully large for a beaver, guess again. Although most adult beavers weigh between 40 and 70 pounds on average, it’s said that very old, fat beavers can weigh as much as 100 pounds! Dare we say that if you had an encounter with a beaver with that kind of girth, you’d probably run screaming? We certainly would…

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Rebecca is a writer and editor for both print and digital with a love for travel, history, archaeology, trivia, and architecture. Much of her writing has focused on human and animal health and welfare. A life-long pet owner, she has taken part in fostering dogs for military members during deployment and given many rescued and surrendered dogs the forever home they always wanted. Her two favorite canine quotes are, "Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are," and "My dog rescued me."
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