Rabid Raccoon Found in Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach, Fla. - A raccoon captured in the neighborhood between Frank Brown Park and Highway 79 in the City of Panama City Beach has tested positive for rabies, according to the Florida Department of Health in Bay County.

On Friday, a second raccoon attacked a dog in The Glades neighborhood of Panama City Beach. The Glades’ raccoon is suspected to have been rabid, but escaped and could not be located for testing.

There have been five laboratory-confirmed rabid animals in Bay County in 2018. Two weeks ago, a rabid raccoon killed a dog in the Cemetery Road area of Bayou George. In June, a rabid fox was killed while attacking a person in the Burnt Mill Creek area off Hwy 388. A raccoon captured off Cabana Blvd on Panama City Beach tested positive for rabies in May and a raccoon captured in the Cove area of Panama City tested positive for rabies in February.  

Rabies is a fatal viral infection of the nervous system that is transmitted from animal to animal and animal to human by bite, scratch, or mucous membrane exposure to infected saliva.  The Florida Department of Health in Bay County would like to remind citizens to avoid contact with wild animals and stray domestic animals.  Among wildlife in Florida, raccoons, bats, and foxes are the animals most frequently diagnosed with rabies.

Never touch a bat!

Florida Law requires all dogs and cats over four months of age to be vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Dogs and cats are at risk for rabies should they fight with an infected animal or chew up a bat. Unvaccinated animals should not be outside unsupervised. A rabid dog or cat can infect a human as easily as a rabid wild animal can. Cats are the domestic animal most frequently diagnosed with rabies in Florida. Feeding cats outdoors attracts raccoons. Free-roaming cats attract coyotes to urban areas.  Keep cats safe. Keep cats indoors.  Placing or offering food or garbage in such a manner that it attracts raccoons is illegal in Florida.  

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 Services 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.
The following advice is issued:

Secure outside garbage in covered containers to avoid attracting wild animals.

Do not leave pet food outside overnight as this attracts wild animals to your home and increases the chance of a pet-raccoon conflict. 

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 general questions pertaining to stray animals or odd acting wild animals, contact your area’s animal control department.

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 at or contact the Florida Department of Health in Bay County at 850-872-4720 or follow us on Twitter @FLHealthEmerald.

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