A rabies alert was issued Friday by the Gulf County Health Department, after it received two confirmations of rabies in wild animals in the Wewahitchka area.
A raccoon was found near Douglas Landing in Dalkieth and a fox was found near the cross section of N Hwy 71 and Jehu Rd. in northern Gulf County.
Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that is spread from animal to animal or animal to human during a bite, scratch, or mucous membrane/open-skin exposure to the infected animal’s saliva.
Rabies in humans can be prevented if post-exposure medication is received early enough following an exposure (bite or scratch); well before the onset of symptoms.
Please ensure your pets are currently vaccinated for rabies. Supervise your pets when they are outdoors. Under the “Cruelty to Animals” Section of the Florida Statutes, dogs and cats over 4 months of age must be currently vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian. An animal with an expired rabies certificate is “unvaccinated.” An animal given their vaccine by a person other than a licensed veterinarian is “unvaccinated.”
To avoid rabies:
_ Supervise your animals when they are outdoors. Don’t let pets “roam the neighborhood.”
_ Stay away from stray or wild animals! Do not touch dogs or cats that are not yours. Avoid contact with unvaccinated animals. Never touch a bat!
_ Never feed raccoons. Raccoons are a high-risk rabies vector and feeding them diminishes their fear of humans and encourages them to frequent areas where they may come into contact with your family or pets.
_ If your pet fights with a wild animal, put on rubber gloves before handling/washing your pet.
_ If a wild animal bites or scratches you or your pet, do not shoot it in the head. Damaged brains cannot be tested for 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 Gulf County Health Department at (850) 227-1276. If the animal is a stray or wild animal, call Gulf County Animal Control at (850) 227-1115.