Bay County – A raccoon killed in a neighborhood southeast of the intersection of Highway 79 (Arnold Road) and Panama City Beach Parkway has tested positive for rabies. This is the ninth animal testing positive for rabies in Bay County this year. This year rabid animals have also been found in Parker, Callaway, Fountain, and in other areas of Panama City Beach.
Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. The virus is spread when broken skin or mucous membranes have contact with the infected animal’s saliva or tissues. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure, will protect an exposed person from the disease.
An animal with rabies could infect other wild animals or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies. Florida Statutes require all dogs and cats over 4 months of age to be currently vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Vaccines purchased at “feed stores” and administered by the animal’s owner do not meet this requirement.
The Bay County Health Department would like to remind citizens that it is illegal to feed raccoons, either directly or indirectly. Feeding raccoons artificially increases their population and increases the likelihood diseases like rabies will spread and conflicts with domestic animals will occur. All wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.
The following advice is issued:
If bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water. Seek medical treatment as needed and report the injury to the Bay County Health Department at (850) 872-4455, X1125. If you are bitten by an animal that is not yours, call 911 or the animal control office for your area and report the animal’s location. Follow up. Rabies is preventable when treatment is provided in a timely manner.
Supervise your pets when they are outdoors.
Secure outside garbage in covered containers to avoid attracting wild animals.
Do not leave pet food outside overnight as this attracts wild animals to your home and increases the chance of a pet-raccoon conflict.
Do not touch animals that are not yours. Avoid contact with all wildlife, especially raccoons, bats, bobcats, otters, foxes, skunks and coyotes. No animal is too young to have rabies.
For questions regarding the health of an animal, contact a veterinarian.
Teach your children about rabies.
Animal Control organizations in Bay County:
Bay County Animal Control: (850) 248-6034
City of Panama City Beach Animal Control: (850) 233-5000
City of Lynn Haven Animal Control: (850) 265-1112
City of Mexico Beach Animal Control: (850) 648-4790