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Raccoon tests positive for rabies in Pasco County, officials urging residents to vaccinate pets

Posted at 10:21 AM, Nov 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-30 10:59:05-05

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County has issued a rabies alert after an animal was exposed to a raccoon that tested positive for the deadly virus. 

Officials say residents and visitors in the Meadow Pointe area should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population, and that domestic animals are at risk if they're not vaccinated. 

The recent rabies alert is for 60 days. The rabies alert includes the following boundaries in Pasco County:

  • Northern boundary – State Road 56
  • Eastern boundary – New River
  • Southern boundary – Beardsley Drive/Anniston Drive
  • Western boundary – Bruce B. Downs Blvd

Officials ask the public to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active. Alerts are designed to increase awareness of the public. However, residents should not get a false sense of security in areas that have not been named as under an alert.

An animal with rabies could infect other wild or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies. All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly with raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.

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.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.
  • 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 immediately.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans 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.
  • If you are bitten by any animal seek care promptly. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Go to your family doctor or hospital for medical attention immediately.

Contact Pasco County Animal Services at (727) 834-3216, (813) 929-1212, or (352) 521-5194 to report animal bites or scratches. Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922 for concerns about wild animals.

For further information on rabies, go to the Florida Department of Health website or call the Florida Department of Health Pasco County at (352) 521-1450 option 2.