Rabies Cases in Wildlife Increasing

By: Leon County Health Department Release
By: Leon County Health Department Release

Tallahassee, FL - Richard Ziegler, Director of Leon County Animal Control, warns citizens to use extra caution when they see wild animals, especially raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes and bats, to protect themselves and their pets from the dangers of rabies. A rabies vaccination is the first line of defense for people and their pets.

Since September there have been nine cases of people and domestic animals being exposed to raccoons that were acting strangely. Three cases were positive for the rabies virus and included one person and two pet dogs. The six raccoons in the other cases exposed only pets but could not be tested because they ran away. “Exposure” can include bites, scratches, and saliva in the eye, mouth or nose.

The cases were scattered around Leon County, including the northeast at Sedona Lane off Miccosukee Road and Fleischman Road, the east near Weems Road, and the south off Springhill Road, near the airport.

“People and their pets are out enjoying the beautiful weather, so they need to be especially alert to wildlife,” Ziegler said. “Many of the raccoons displayed unusual behavior such as wobbling, walking in circles, staggering, attacking objects, having a discharge from the nose or eyes, and acting disoriented. Whenever you see a raccoon showing these symptoms, keep away and secure your pets,” Ziegler added.

Rabies is a virus that is transmitted from animal to animal or animal to human, usually by a bite from an infected animal. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes and bats are all common carriers of the virus. To prevent the spread of rabies, take the following steps:

Keep your pet’s rabies vaccination current.
Keep children and pets away from wildlife.
Keep pets indoors, if possible.
Do not feed wildlife.
Do not leave food outside or accessible to wildlife.

If you are bitten, scratched or spat upon by a wild animal, seek medical attention immediately and wash the wound with soap and water. Also if you see sick animals, contact Leon County Animal Control at 606-5400 for assistance. For more information, please call Richard Ziegler at 606-5400.

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