As a result of the increased prevalence of rabies in our area, the Bay County Health Department is issuing a rabies alert for the following: all areas south of Highway 22, between Highway 2297, Martin Lake, and the Dupont Bridge. Four animals have tested positive for rabies in this area in 2012, with two of them being within the last 30 days. The alert will be in effect until December 10, 2012.
A raccoon captured near the intersection of Lannie Rowe Drive and S. Gay Avenue in Callaway has tested positive for rabies. This is the tenth animal testing positive for rabies in Bay County this year. This year rabid animals have also been found in Parker, Callaway, Fountain, and in areas of Panama City Beach.
All Bay County residents are urged to review their pet's rabies certificates and ensure their animals are currently vaccinated for rabies. 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.
Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. The rabies virus is secreted in the saliva of an infected animal or human. Exposure to the virus can be through broken skin or mucous membrane (eyes, nose or mouth) contact with infected 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.
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:
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 850-872-4720, X1125.