Florida Department of Health warns Walton County residents about rabies

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Florida Department of Health in Walton County is warning residents about rabies.

Officials urge residents to avoid contact with wild and stray animals to protect themselves.

They said in Florida, high-risk animals for rabies include raccoons, bats, foxes, and unvaccinated cats.

Other potential high-risk animals include skunks, otters, coyotes, bobcats, and stray or unvaccinated dogs and ferrets.

This warning comes after two foxes with exposure to people and pets were reported in May and June 2018.

Rabies can be transmitted through bite, scratch, or contact with mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, or mouth.

DOH-Walton provided a list of steps to protect yourself and loved ones:

"Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets and at-risk livestock.

Do not allow your pets to run free. Follow leash laws by keeping pets and livestock secured on your property. If your pet or livestock are bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact Walton County Animal Control at 850-892-8682.

Support animal control in efforts to reduce feral and stray animal populations.

Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.

Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with outdoor food sources such as uncovered trash or litter.

Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.

Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.

Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they might come in contact with people and pets.

Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the DOH- Walton at 850-892-8021."