Bay County – A raccoon captured near Highway 2311 and De Len Drive in the High Point area has tested positive for rabies.
This is the second laboratory confirmed rabid raccoon of 2014. The first rabid raccoon was killed in the area of the Panama City Country Club in the City of Lynn Haven on January 3, 2014. In 2013, one cat and seven raccoons tested positive for rabies in Bay County.
The Florida Department of Health in Bay County would like to remind citizens that Florida law requires dogs and cats over four months of age to be currently vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Unvaccinated dogs and cats should not be outdoors without direct and continuous adult supervision. Dogs and cats without a current veterinarian-administered vaccine are unvaccinated. Animals given “feed-store” rabies vaccines by their owners are not legally vaccinated
Most laboratory-confirmed rabid raccoons are involved in conflicts with dogs. Following raccoons and bats, domestic cats are the animal third most likely to test positive for rabies in Florida. An unvaccinated pet increases your family’s risk for exposure to this deadly disease.
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.
Raccoons and bats are the Florida animals most frequently testing positive for rabies. Raccoons can secrete the rabies virus in their saliva before they have noticeable symptoms. All contact with raccoons and bats should be avoided. As well, 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 dogs or cats will occur.
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.