SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – A rabies alert has been issued for a portion of Seminole County after a raccoon tested positive for the disease, according to health officials.
Officials with the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County said the alert, which was issued Monday, includes neighborhoods surrounding All Faiths Memorial Park and Dew Drop Park in Casselberry.
“Residents and visitors in the area bordered to the north by West Panama Road on the east by East Lake Drive, on the south by South Eagle Circle, and on the west by South Lost Lake Lane should avoid contact with raccoons and other wildlife,” health officials said in a news release.
Officials said the alert is for 60 days and is meant to increase awareness within the community but warned that rabies activity can also take place outside of the areas mentioned in the alert.
“Residents and visitors in Seminole County should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population, and domestic animals are at risk if not vaccinated,” health officials said.
An animal with rabies can not only affect other wild animals but also household pets. Health officials say all domestic animals should be vaccinated against the disease and should avoid contact with feral cats, stray dogs, and all wildlife, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats, and coyotes.
What is rabies?
“Rabies is a disease of the nervous system that can cause paralysis and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans,” according to Seminole County health officials.
How is it spread?
“The virus is spread through saliva, and humans may become infected through a bite wound, scratch or exposure of a fresh cut or mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth) to the saliva of a rabid animal,” health officials say.
Can it be treated?
According to health officials, it can be prevented if treated in a timely manner.
“The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies-specific immune globulin and rabies immunization,” health department officials said. “Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure will protect an exposed person from the disease.”
How can I protect my family?
The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County offers the following tips to protect residents and pets from the disease:
- All pets should have current rabies immunizations.
- Secure outside garbage in covered containers to avoid attracting wild animals.
- Do not leave pet food outside. This also attracts other animals.
- Avoid contact with all wildlife, especially feral cats, raccoons, bats, and foxes.
- If bitten or scratched by a suspected rabid animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, seek medical attention, and promptly report the incident to Seminole County Animal Services.
Anyone who thinks they may have been bitten or scratched by a raccoon is asked to call Seminole County Animal Services at 407-665-5201 or the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County at 407-665-3243.