KENDALL, FL — A dead raccoon tested positive for rabies in the Kendall area, according to state health officials. The Kendall alert will remain in effect for at least another 60 days through Nov. 16. With the new case, officials said that a total of six raccoons have tested positive for the deadly disease this year in Miami-Dade County.
“Today, the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County received confirmation of a sixth raccoon that tested positive for rabies in the same Kendall area,” health officials said Monday afternoon. “This raccoon was found dead with no known human exposure.”
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Health officials advised residents to avoid contact with all wild animals, but particularly raccoons.
“This is the sixth confirmed rabid animal and sixth rabid raccoon identified in Miami-Dade for 2018” officials said.
“An animal with rabies could infect other wild or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies,” stated the Florida Department of Health for Miami-Dade County. “All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.”
The alert covers the area within the following boundaries:
SW 152nd Street to the North
SW 187th Street to the South
SW 117th Avenue to the East
SW 137th Avenue to the West
Rabies is described by the World Health Organization as an infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical signs.
Raccoons are about the size of a small dog and are distinguished by their black mask and bushy ringed tail. Most raccoons weigh 8-15 pounds, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They are common throughout the state, including urban areas, and can be found anywhere there are trees. Raccoons also tend to stay near a source of water.
“Raccoons are among the most intelligent of Florida’s wildlife. They feed on fruits, plant material, eggs, crustaceans, small animals and even garbage,” according to FWC. They usually become active in the late afternoon and throughout the night, but may change this pattern according to food availability.
“In up to 99 percent of human cases, the rabies virus is transmitted by domestic dogs,” according to WHO. “Rabies affects domestic and wild animals, and is spread to people through bites or scratches, usually via saliva.”
Rabies is present on all continents with the exception of Antarctica, but more than 95 percent of human deaths occur in Asia and Africa, according to WHO.
The Florida Department of Health reports that the virus can spread to unvaccinated pets, which then pose a high risk to the pet owner and their family.
“The main wildlife sources of rabies in Florida are raccoons and bats. Infected raccoons and bats can expose people, pets, livestock and other wildlife to rabies, typically through bites,” the agency stated. “Outside cats are by far the most common domestic animal found to have rabies in the state of Florida largely because they are often not kept up-to-date on rabies vaccinations. Dogs, cats and ferrets are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies in the state of Florida.”
Here are some tips from the Department of Health to avoid exposure:
Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.
Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals and contact Miami-Dade Animal Services at 3-1-1 if you have concerns.
Call 3-1-1 to report any stray dogs in your neighborhood or private property. Owners can hire a nuisance wildlife trapper for removal of wildlife.
If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact Miami-Dade Animal Services at 3-1-1.
Do not handle, feed or unintentionally atrract wild animals with open garbage cans or littler.
Do not leave food sources out for wildfire such as pet food or unsecured garbage.
Avoid contact with stray and feral animals.
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.
Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County at 305-324-2400.
“The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies-specific immune globulin and rabies immunization,” health officials cautioned. “Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure will protect an exposed person from the disease.”
For more information on rabies click here, call 305-324-2400 or call Miami-Dade County Animal Services at 3-1-1.
A sixth raccoon like this one tested positive for the deadly rabies disease. Photo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
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