Bay County – A raccoon captured in a yard off Anne Avenue, south of Laird Street has tested positive for rabies. This is the sixth raccoon testing positive for rabies in Bay County this year and the third raccoon from the east end of Panama City Beach. Additionally, a West Bay bobcat tested positive for rabies in January. In 2011, ten Bay County animals tested positive for rabies.
Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. 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.