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Wakulla County Health Dept. Urges Residents to Avoid Contact with Wild and Stray Animals

The Wakulla County Health Department (WCHD) urges residents to avoid contact with wild and stray animals to protect themselves from the risk of rabies exposure.  It is important to note  that there is NOT an outbreak of rabies in Wakulla County, nor has any rabies been detected in any animal in 2010 in Wakulla County.  The WCHD has tested several animals so far this year;
however, none have tested positive for rabies.

{sidebar id=1}WCHD is providing the tips below for informational purposes only.  As we approach springtime, animals and people begin to interact more frequently and the advice below is important information to remember.

In Florida, raccoons, bats and foxes 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 cats, dogs and ferrets.  Each year, Wakulla County ends up having to euthanize many animals because of residents that have made contact with wild animals that were acting unusual.  By avoiding these animals we will avoid having to needlessly euthanize animals that may have only been acting in a defensive response.

“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 Padraic Juarez, Environmental Health Administrator for the WCHD.

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.  WCHD works with Wakulla County Animal Control in responding to incidents of animal bites, tests animals for rabies through the Florida Department of Health State Laboratory, and quarantines animals as necessary.

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. This vaccination must be done by a licensed veterinarian and is required by state law.

  • Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild
    animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal
    and contact Wakulla County Animal Control at (850) 926-0902.

This information originally published on March 17, 2010.

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