A raccoon killed in a neighborhood southeast of the intersection of Highway 79 (Arnold Road) and Panama City Beach Parkway has tested positive for rabies. This is the ninth animal testing positive for rabies in Bay County this year. This year rabid animals have also been found in Parker, Callaway, Fountain, and in other areas of Panama City Beach.
Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. The virus is spread when broken skin or mucous membranes have contact with the infected animal's saliva or tissues. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure, will protect an exposed person from the disease.
An animal with rabies could infect other wild animals or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies. Florida Statutes require all dogs and cats over 4 months of age to be currently vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Vaccines purchased at "feed stores" and administered by the animal's owner do not meet this requirement.
The Bay County Health Department would like to remind citizens that 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 domestic animals will occur. All wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.
The following advice is issued:
Animal Control organizations in Bay County:
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 Bay County Health Department at 850-872-4455, X1125.
Information provided by the Bay County Health Department