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Health department encourages protection from wild and stray animals | Health

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Health department encourages protection from wild and stray animals
Health, News, Pets
Health department encourages protection from wild and stray animals

Pasco County, Florida -- The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County (DOH-Pasco) reminds

residents to be mindful of wild and stray animals that can carry rabies.  

Raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks commonly carry the rabies virus.  An animal with rabies could infect other wild animals or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies.

"Rabies is present in Pasco's wild animal population and contact should be avoided." says Mike Napier, County Health Officer "The best way to prevent rabies in your pets is to make sure rabies vaccinations are up to date."

The health department works closely with animal control and others to investigate animal bites that are reported locally. This year to date, the health department has investigated over 300 animal bites with 27 of those being from wild animals including 24 raccoons. Forty-six individuals have received rabies treatment this year including 11 as a result of a bite or scratch from a raccoon.

All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly 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.

Prevention steps:

  • Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.
  • If your pet is bitten by a wild animal or a feral cat, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild, feral, or stray animals by leaving pet food outside, or garbage cans open.
  • 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 and for information on stray dogs and cats.
  • Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-863-648-3203 for concerns about wild animals.
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