Drought Causes Rise in Rabies Virus

By: Bryan Anderson Email
By: Bryan Anderson Email

Bonifay- The Holmes County Health Department is warning residents to watch out for potentially rabid animals, and they said the drought could be causing the disease to spread.

Holmes County Health Officials have confirmed two rabies cases in the past two weeks. They're hoping an advisory to residents will prevent any more.

Ponce de Leon resident Doris Davidson described the day a infected raccoon got in a fight with her eight year old dog "Rufus."

"It was still daylight so they're night animals, and this is the first time I'd ever seen one come up. He was very aggressive trying to get to my dog through the fence. He finally found a place to come through, and he was fighting my dog. The dog killed him," said Davidson.

Rufus now has to stay in quarantine until December, and he's not the only one who's had an encounter with rabies.

"Two positive results out in the county. One was a raccoon, one was a feral cat," said Holmes County Environmental Manager Jackie Parker.

Health officials said rabies is spread through a bite, scratch, or transfer of saliva from an infected animal. Human symptoms resemble the flu, but infected animals can act either docile or extremely aggressive.

Parker said anyone that could be infected should seek immediate medical help, but that the best cure is prevention.

"Walk away, stay away from any stray animal because you don't know if this cute little raccoon or this cute little kitten may be infected with a virus that could be potentially fatal," said Parker.

The Jackson County Health Department has had four rabies cases in the past three months. Health officials ask you to report any suspicious-acting animals to your local health department.

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