The Florida Department of Health in Bay County is continuing to remind dog and cat owners to have their dogs and cats vaccinated for rabies. So far this year, Bay County has had 4 confirmed cases of rabies across the county including 3 raccoons and 1 domestic cat.
Veterinarians and health experts say there is a simple solution to prevent this deadly disease. If pet owners are going to let their pets outdoors, the only sure way to protect them is with a rabies vaccination.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of human beings and animals, but it's not until it reaches the brain that signs of the virus start to show. Dr. Richard Bartels of Bay View Veterinary Hospital explains, "It's a virus that's deadly, once the dog or cat or human has been bitten by it, they're pretty much going to die unless they get you know sometime of treatment for it."
Dr. Bartels says rabies is a disease that can be prevented in cats and dogs. With the recent case of a rabid raccoon being confirmed at the north end of College Point, Dr. Bartels says pet owners should seriously consider having their cats or dogs vaccinated if they haven't already. "If you think of what you're doing you know you're not only protecting your dog but you're protecting you're family because that dog may bring it in to the family," Bartels said.
If a dog or cat has bitten a family member, Michael Templin of the Bay County Health Department says time will tell. "If a dog or cat bites a person and the dog or cat is alive and normal 10 days after it bites the person then it wouldn't then it wouldn't have expose that person to rabies at the time of the bite because dogs only live 1-7 days once they're contagious and cats only live 1-8 days," Templin said.
To avoid coming in contact with rabid animals health officials recommend:
"You know I know we all have a lot of things to worry about you know insurance and paying for this and paying for that getting this done but you know vaccinating your dog and cat is very important," said Bartels.
The costs of the rabies vaccination can be between $14-$18.