Raccoon Killed in Panama City Tests Positive for Rabies

Bay County – A raccoon killed in the neighborhood between State Avenue and Stanford Road north of 23rd Street in Panama City has tested positive for rabies.

This is Bay County’s fifth laboratory confirmed rabid raccoon of 2014. A rabid raccoon was captured two weeks ago in the area of E 17th Street and East Avenue in the Cedar Grove area. In February, a rabid raccoon was captured near 9th Street and Minnesota Avenue in the City of Lynn Haven and a rabid raccoon was killed on De Len Drive in the High Point area. In January, a rabid raccoon was killed near 8th Street and Arkansas Avenue in Lynn Haven.

The Florida Department of Health in Bay County would like to remind citizens that unvaccinated dogs and cats should not be outdoors without direct and continuous adult supervision. The Florida Statutes require all dogs, cats, and ferrets over four months of age be currently vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian. The first rabies vaccination a dog or cat receives is only good for one year regardless of the type of vaccine used.

Dogs and cats should be fed indoors. If they are fed outdoors, food should only be left outside for a short period of time and then removed. Any spilled food should be cleaned up. Pet food left outdoors and uncovered garbage will attract raccoons to your yard. Placing or offering food or garbage in such a manner that it attracts raccoons is illegal in Florida. All contact with wild mammals or stray domestic mammals should be avoided.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. The rabies virus is secreted in the saliva of an infected animal or human. Exposure to the virus can be through broken skin (bites, scratches) or mucous membrane (eyes, nose, mouth) contact with infected 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.

The following advice is issued:

-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.

-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 Florida Department of Health in Bay County at (850) 872-4455, X1125. If the animal is stray or wild, call 911 or Bay County
Animal Control at (850) 248-6034 and report the animal’s location. In the City of Lynn Haven, call the Lynn Haven Police Department at (850) 265-1112. Follow up. Rabies is preventable when treatment is provided in a timely manner.

-If your dog or cat fights with a wild animal, contact the Florida Department of Health in Bay County immediately. The wild animal will need to be tested for rabies. Your animal may need to be quarantined. Do not shoot suspected rabid animals in the head.

-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. A rabid animal may act friendly.

-Wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear when dressing/butchering wild animals to avoid exposure to rabies and other diseases. Cook all meat thoroughly to 165 degrees.

-For general questions pertaining to stray animals or odd acting wild animals, contact your area’s animal control department.

-For questions regarding the health of a pet, contact a veterinarian.

-Teach your children about rabies and to never touch a bat.

For further information on rabies, go to the Florida Department of Health website: website http://www.doh.state.fl.us/environment/medicine/rabies/rabies-index.html or contact the Florida Department of Health in Bay County at 850-872-4720, X1125.

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