Rabid fox killed in Lake Merial area of Bay County

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A rabid gray fox has been killed in the Lake Merial area of Bay County.

Florida Department of Health Bay County officials say the fox was killed off Prosper Road.

It's the first confirmed case of rabies in Bay County in 2019.

Last year, seven raccoons and one gray fox tested positive for rabies throughout the county.

Here's what health officials say you need to know about the disease and prevention:

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.

Florida law requires dogs and cats four months or older be vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian against rabies.

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.

The Florida Department of Health would like to remind citizens that intentionally 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. In the City of Lynn Haven, call the Lynn Haven Police Department at (850) 265-1112.

Follow up. Rabies is preventable when treatment is provided in a timely manner. The following advice is issued:

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 eye-wear 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 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 or contact the Florida Department of Health in Bay County at 850-872-4720 or follow them on Twitter @FLHealthEmerald.