PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - The Florida Department of Health in Bay County issued a rabies alert for the City of Panama City Beach in Bay County, Tuesday afternoon.
On March 2, an aggressive raccoon that later tested positive for rabies entered a building at Frank Brown Park. On February 28, a raccoon killed in the neighborhood immediately northwest of the intersection of Highway 79/Arnold Road and Panama City Beach Parkway also tested positive for rabies.
"The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in Bay County. Alerts are designed to increase awareness to the public, but they should not give a false sense of security to areas that have not been named as under an alert," officials wrote in a news release.
The rabies alert is for 60 days. The center of the alert is the City of Panama City Beach around the intersection of Highway 79/Arnold Road and Panama City Beach Parkway. The rabies alert includes the following area boundaries in Bay County: west of Pier Park Drive, north of the Gulf of Mexico to timberland and East of Cobb Road
The Health Department also issued the following warning:
An animal with rabies can infect a human by bite or claw scratch. Avoid physical contact with wild animals and unvaccinated domestic animals. Raccoons, bats, domestic cats, and foxes are the animals most frequently testing positive for rabies in Florida. Any warm blooded mammal can be infected with rabies. Never touch a bat!
Unvaccinated dogs and cats in the area should not be outdoors without direct and continuous supervision. Florida law requires all dogs and cats 4 months of age or older be vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian against rabies.
Pet food left outside unattended attracts and increases the raccoon population in an area. This increases the likelihood diseases like rabies will be transmitted. Intentionally placing food or garbage, allowing the placement of food or garbage, or offering food or garbage in such a manner that it attracts raccoons is illegal in Florida.
Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. 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 following advice is issued:
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 Control 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.
Secure outside garbage in covered containers to avoid attracting wild animals.
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 eyewear when dressing/butchering wild animals to avoid exposure to rabies and other diseases. Cook all meat thoroughly to 165 degrees.
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: website http://www.doh.state.fl.us/environment/medicine/rabies/rabies-index.html or contact the Florida Department of Health in Bay County at 850-872-4720.
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