A raccoon killed in the area between the bridges of Highway 2302 in Southport has tested positive for rabies. In January, a rabid cat was captured on the east end of the Laguna Beach area of Panama City Beach and a rabid raccoon was killed near Parker Elementary School. There were nine rabid raccoons and one rabid bobcat captured or killed in Bay County in 2012.
The Florida Department of Health in Bay County is reminding dog and cat owners that Florida law requires all dogs and cats over four months of age 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. Dogs and cats without a current rabies vaccination should not be left outside unsupervised. An unvaccinated pet increases your family's at risk for exposure to this deadly disease.
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 (bites, scratches) or mucous membrane (eyes, nose, 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 Florida Department of Health in Bay County 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 questions regarding the health of an animal, 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 at http://www.doh.state.fl.us/environment/medicine/rabies/rabies-index.html or contact Florida Department of Health in Bay County at 850-872-4720, X1125.