Rabies Alert for Suwannee County

By: Charlene Cristobal
September 2, 2014

LIVE OAK, Fla. -- "A neurological disease that travels up through the nervous system, into the brain," said Michael Mitchell with the Florida Department of Health in Suwannee County. "Once the virus gets to the brain is when the symptoms start occurring and in a short period of time, depending on the type of animal or person, that's when the person or animal will die."

Rabies, it can be prevented but it doesn't have a cure. Humans and their animals are to be on high alert in Suwannee County after a cat tested positive for the disease.

"Rabies passes through raccoons, foxes, bats are very common. Dogs and cats, of course, can get it," said Mitchell. "Yes, people, just like animals, it travels up through your nervous system, into the brain. The question is just how long does it take to get from where the bite occurred to get the virus up to the brain is period in which you have to get a rabies vaccine for both animals and for humans."

Health Officials are warning Suwannee County residents to take the following precautions:
- Avoid contact with free roaming domestic or any wild animals
- Do not leave pet food outside and secure outside garbage in covered containers to avoid attracting wild animals
- Contact your vet to make sure your dogs, cats or ferrets have a current rabies vaccination
- Do not feed any stray or wild animals
- Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.

If you believe your pet could have rabies, call your local vet or Suwannee County Animal control at (386) 208-0072. You can also call the Florida Department of Health at (386) 362-2708.

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