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Rabid Raccoon Killed in Panama City Beach

February 28, 2017


FEBRUARY 28, 2017

Pet owners urged to vaccinate their animals against rabies, be on alert for animals with rabies

PANAMA CITY, Fla.- A raccoon killed in the Scott’s Field Park area of the City of Panama City Beach has tested positive for rabies. This is Bay County’s second laboratory confirmed rabid animal of 2017.  In January, a kitten at the Heartland Rescue Ranch in Southport tested positive for rabies.

The Florida Department of Health in Bay County would like to remind citizens that Florida Law requires all dogs, cats, and ferrets over four months of age to be vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian.  Dogs and cats are at risk for rabies should they fight with an infected animal or chew up a bat.  In Florida, rabid cats outnumber any other domestic species and rival the number of rabid foxes.  Managing free-roaming/feral domestic cats is not tenable on public health grounds because of the persistent threat posed to communities from injury and disease. Ideally, cats should have regular veterinary care and be maintained inside people's homes.

To avoid attracting wildlife, feed dogs and cats indoors.   If they are fed outdoors, food should only be left outside for a short period of time and then removed.  Any spilled food should be cleaned up.  Placing or offering food or garbage in such a manner that it attracts raccoons is illegal in Florida

Rabies is a fatal viral infection of the nervous system that is transmitted from animal to animal and animal to human by bite, scratch, or mucous membrane exposure to infected saliva. Humans should avoid physical contact with wild animals and stray or unvaccinated domestic animals.   

If bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water.  Seek medical treatment as needed and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Bay County at (850) 872-4455. If the animal is stray or wild, call 911 or Bay County Animal Control at (850) 767-3333 and report the animal’s location. In the City of Lynn Haven, call the Lynn Haven Police Department at (850) 265-1112.  Follow up.  Rabies is preventable when treatment is provided in a timely manner.

The following advice is issued:

  • Secure outside garbage in covered containers to avoid attracting wild animals.
    Do not leave pet food outside overnight as this attracts wild animals to your home and increases the chance of a pet-raccoon conflict.
  • If your dog or cat fights with a wild animal, contact the Florida Department of Health in Bay County immediately.  The wild animal will need to be tested for rabies.  Your animal may need to be quarantined.  Do not shoot suspected rabid animals in the head.
  • Do not touch animals that are not yours.  Avoid contact with all wildlife, especially raccoons, bats, bobcats, otters, foxes, skunks and coyotes. No animal is too young to have rabies.  A rabid animal may act friendly. 
  • Wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear when dressing/butchering wild animals to avoid exposure to rabies and other diseases.  Cook all meat thoroughly to 165 degrees.
  • For general questions pertaining to stray animals or odd acting wild animals, contact your area’s animal control department.
  • For questions regarding the health of a pet, contact a veterinarian.
    Teach your children about rabies and to never touch a bat.

For further information on rabies, go to the Florida Department of Health website: website or contact the Florida Department of Health in Bay County at 850-872-4720.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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