The Tennessee Health Department confirms three cases of rabies have been identified in Wilson County so far this year.
Four cases were reported in the county last year. Health officials said the virus was found in a dog, skunk and horse.
Rabies infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death.
“We'll initiate treatment in the emergency department based on your history, that includes hemoglobin for rabies and then the series of vaccination shots,” said Dr. Jeff Greenlee of Tristar Summit Medical Center.
Dr. Greenlee said it is not common for livestock like horses to contract the serious disease, it's typically found in wild animals like raccoons and domesticated animals like a dogs.
However, Dr. Greenlee said it's nothing to be alarmed about.
“It's so rare that it's a very uncommon finding,” said Dr. Greenlee.
According to the World Health Organization estimates about 30,000 to 70,000 people die worldwide of rabies each year.
It's most commonly spread through the bite of a rabid animal.
Early symptoms in humans include fever, headache, and general weakness.
Dr. Greenlee advice is to seek medical attention immediately if you believe you may have contracted rabies and to simply avoid those animals that pose a threat.
“You may want to just avoid the exposure to those animals. If you have been scratched or bitten or exposed then come see me,” said Dr. Greenlee.
Animals with rabies typically become vicious or begin to show signs of paralysis.
Once the animal shows signs of paralysis, the disease progresses very quickly and the animal eventually dies.