FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Contact:  Deanna Krautner,
4/18/2014     Public Information Officer
(727) 861-5250 ext. 162

HEALTH OFFICIALS EXPAND BOUNDARIES FOR RABIES ALERT

Zephyrhills – The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County is expanding the boundaries for the previously issued rabies alert for the south east geographical region of Pasco County. This is in response to a raccoon found outside of the previous boundaries testing positive for rabies.

All residents and visitors in Pasco County should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population and domestic animals are at risk if not vaccinated. The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in Pasco County. Alerts are designed to increase awareness to the public, but they should not get a false sense of security to areas that have not been named as under an alert.

“In rural and urban surroundings rabies in the wild animal population, specifically raccoons are more prevalent than most people think,” said Mike Napier, County Health Officer.  “We urge you to be responsible pet owners and get your pets vaccinated and to educate your children to stay away from any raccoons or animals they are not familiar with.”

The recent rabies alert is for 60 days.  The center of the rabies alert is in the south east area of Pasco, and includes the following boundaries in Pasco County:

West of County Road 535
South of Centennial Road
East of River Glen Blvd
North of Chancey Road

An animal with rabies could infect other wild or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies.  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.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:
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. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
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.

For further information on rabies, go to  HYPERLINK “http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/index.html” http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/index.html or call the Florida Department of Health Pasco County, (352) 521-1450 ext. 344.

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