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Posted on: April 3, 2019

Rabies Alert Extended After Sixth Rabid Animal Identified in Bay Co. Since January

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A raccoon killed in the area between Laurie Avenue and Laird Circle in unincorporated Panama City Beach has tested positive for rabies. Rabies is a fatal viral infection of the nervous system that is transmitted from animal to animal or animal to human by bite, scratch, or mucous membrane exposure to infected saliva.

Six animals have tested positive for rabies in Bay County this year. The existing county-wide rabies alert is extended for another 60 days. The alert was previously extended in March after a rabid raccoon was captured near East 11th Street and Everitt Avenue in the Cedar Grove area. Also in March, a rabid raccoon was killed by dogs off Oakenshaw Drive in Youngstown and a rabid gray fox was killed off the north end of Resota Beach Road in Southport. In February, a rabid raccoon was killed by a dog along Sukoshi Drive in Callaway and a rabid gray fox was killed just east of Lake Merial along Prosper Road in Southport.

If you own a dog or cat over four months of age, it must be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. If you give the vaccine yourself and you are not a licensed veterinarian, it doesn’t count and your animal is considered unvaccinated. Unvaccinated dogs and cats should be kept indoors. It is cruel to put an unvaccinated dog or cat outdoors unprotected against this deadly disease. An unvaccinated pet can bring rabies into your home. Cats are the domestic animal most likely to be infected with rabies. Keep cats indoors. Do not touch wild animals or stray cats or dogs. No animal is too young to have rabies. Never touch a bat!

The Florida Department of Health would like to remind citizens that it is unintentionally or unintentionally feeding raccoons is prohibited in Florida. Feed dogs and cats indoors and keep garbage covered. Feeding raccoons concentrates raccoons at abnormally high densities and increases the likelihood of rabies transmission from raccoon-to-raccoon and raccoon-to-dogs, cats, and people. Infected raccoons may appear normal. Relocating an infected raccoon can spread rabies.

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. If the animal is stray or wild, call 911 or Bay County Animal Services at (850) 767-3333 and report the animal’s location. Rabies is preventable when treatment is provided in a timely manner.

The following advice is issued by the Health Department:

  • 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.
    • Do not hunt animals that appear sick.
  • 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 at 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).

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