VALRICO, Fla. — Hillsborough County confirmed its first rabies case of 2020 on Wednesday.
The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough says the infected raccoon was found in the area of Laurel Pointe Drive.
Shortly after a man let his two dogs outside on January 25 he heard yelping, went outside and found a raccoon on the back of one of the dogs.
The man was bitten and scratched when he separated the animals. Health officials say the man wasn't sure if both dogs were attacked, but both are vaccinated.
Still, health officials say they both received booster shots and are being quarantined for 45 days. The man is being treated for exposure.
"However, this incident on January 25, serves as a reminder to ensure pets are up-to-date on rabies vaccination. It should be expected that there is always some level of the virus in our wildlife population," the health department said.
Officials are notifying all homes within a 500-foot of where the raccoon was located.
In 2019, there was only one rabid animal identified in the county. In 2018, there were 10.
Health officials say people should avoid contact with any animals that live in the wild, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.
"Some may be tempted to feed or help the animal, but it isn't worth the risk. The only definitive way to determine if an animal has rabies is a lab examination," the department said.
If you have been bitten, scratched or exposed to the saliva of a wild animal or an animal that is acting unusual, always report the exposure to the local health department.