Florida Department of Health: Avoid Contact With Wildlife

DOH-Pinellas County issues reminder after boy dies of rabies

In the wake of the death of a six year old boy who had been scratched by a bat, the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is urging residents to avoid contact with wildlife.

Many wild animals found in Pinellas County can carry rabies, including raccoons, skunks, and bats.  Rabies is nearly 100% fatal to humans if the virus is carried long enough for symptoms to begin to present themselves.  Post-exposure treatment involves a series of injections and has to be done almost immediately after exposure.

The Department of Health reminds residents that they should go to a hospital or call 911 immediately if they believe they have been exposed to the virus.

Among the guidelines:

-Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home to nurse them back to health.  Pinellas County Animal Services are professionals and can be reached at (727) 582-2600.

-Never feed, pet, or interact with wild or stray animals.

-Do not leave food outside for wildlife or pets, as that can attract rabid animals.

-Do not install bat houses as a form of mosquito prevention.  Report any mosquito problems to Pinellas County Mosquito Control at (727) 464-7503.

-Keep all pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.  Veterinarians or Pinellas County Animal Services can provide the vaccinations.

-Keep your pets under direct supervision to avoid them coming into contact with rabid animals.  Seek immediate veterinary assistance if your pet comes into contact with a rabid animal.

-Report any animal bites or scratches to Animal Services.

For more information, please visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/index.html or call Florida DOH-Pinellas County at (727) 824-6932.