Health officials warn of second rabid fox in Bay County

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PANAMA CITY, (Florida Department of Health in Bay County) — The Florida Department of Health in Bay County (DOH-Bay) urges residents to avoid contact with wild and stray animals to protect themselves from the risk of rabies exposure.

This follows a confirmed case of rabies in a fox captured in the area of Harbor Blvd at the west end of the Hathaway Bridge. This is the second confirmed case of rabies in Bay County this year. In August, a gray fox found in the Bear Creek area off Highway 231 also tested positive for rabies.

In Florida, raccoons, bats and foxes, and unvaccinated cats are the animals most frequently diagnosed with rabies. Other animals that are at high risk for rabies include skunks, otters, coyotes, bobcats, and stray or unvaccinated dogs and ferrets. Each year, Bay County receives reports of rabid animals. In 2019, 11 rabid animals were reported in Bay County.

“Rabies is a potentially fatal disease. It is important not to handle wild animals, to be aware of unusual acting animals, and to keep pets vaccinated against rabies,” said Sandon S. Speedling, MHS, CPM, CPH, Administrator and Health Officer, DOH-Bay.

Rabies is transmitted through exposure to the saliva and nervous tissue from a rabid animal through a bite, scratch, or contact with mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, or mouth. DOH-Bay works with Bay County Animal Services and Lynn Haven Animal Control in responding to incidents of animal bites, tests animals for rabies through the Department of Health state laboratory, and quarantines animals as necessary. DOH-Bay also provides rabies vaccinations to victims of animal bites, the only known effective treatment for rabies prevention in humans.

The following are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones against rabies:

  • Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets and at-risk livestock.
  • Do not allow your pets to run free. Follow leash laws by keeping pets and livestock secured on your property.  If your pet or livestock are bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact Bay County Animal Services at 767-3333 or in Lynn Haven, Lynn Haven Police at (850) 265-2112.
  • Support animal control in efforts to reduce feral and stray animal populations.
  • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with outdoor food sources such as uncovered trash or litter.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they might come in contact with people and pets.
  • Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the DOH-Bay at (850) 872-4455.

For further information on rabies, go to http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/index.html, or contact DOH-Bay at (850) 872-4455.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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