PANAMA CITY, Fla. A raccoon killed in a neighborhood between the west ends of Venetian Way and Kristanna Drive has tested positive for rabies.
The Florida Department of Health in Bay County would like to remind citizens that Florida law requires all dogs and cats over four months of age to be currently vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian.
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. Dogs and cats without a current veterinarian-administered rabies vaccination should not be left outside unsupervised.
This is the eighth Bay County animal testing positive for rabies in 2013. Other Bay County animals testing positive for rabies in 2013 include six raccoons and one domestic cat, the most recent being rabid raccoons killed near the south end of the Baily Bridge in October and near the intersection of East 12th Street and Bob Little Road at the end of November.
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. 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 an animal, 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: website 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, X1125.