Bay County – A cat captured on the east side of the Laguna Beach area of Panama City Beach has tested positive for rabies. A raccoon killed in the North 9th Street and Lake Drive area of the City of Parker has also tested positive for rabies.
Residents and visitors are urged to avoid contact with wild animals and stray dogs and cats. Teach your children to stay away from stray or wild animals.
Unvaccinated outdoor cats have a higher risk for infection with the rabies virus. Unvaccinated dogs and cats should not be allowed outdoors. In the State of Florida, an animal is “unvaccinated” if its rabies vaccination has expired or was not given by a licensed veterinarian. 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.
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 or mucous membrane (eyes, nose or 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 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:
—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.
—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) 872-4720, X1125. If the animal is stray or wild, call 911 or Bay County Animal Control at (850) 248-6034 and report its location. 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 Bay County Health Department immediately. The wild animal will need to be tested for rabies. Your animal may need to be quarantined.
—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. Never touch a bat!
—For general questions pertaining to animals, contact Bay County Animal Control at (850) 248-6034.
—For questions regarding the health of an animal, contact a veterinarian.
—Teach your children about rabies.
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 Bay County Health Department at 850-872-4720, X1125.