Rabid Raccoons Cause Miami-Dade County to Issue Rabies Alert
Citizens in Miami-Dade County should be aware of the potentially deadly rabies outbreak in the area.
Officials from the Department of Health in Miami-Dade County have expanded its rabies alert zone area in Kendall, Florida, after a second confirmed case of the deadly disease was reported on in early March 2017.
The first raccoon to test positive in Miami-Dade County since 2001 was captured in Kendall and tested positive on March 1; the second infected raccoon was hit by a car in the same area in the same week.
Residents in the alert zone are understandably on edge, as the rabies virus can infect any mammal. Locals should stay cautious of wild animals — not just raccoons — and be aware of the signs or symptoms of rabies.
“Foxes, raccoons, skunks, or even domesticated animals will show signs of what is referred to as ‘aggressive rabies,’” Catseye Pest Control Wildlife Expert Paul Dube said. “Things to watch for include chittering, convulsions, unsteady balance, walking in circles, and unprovoked aggressive behavior.”
The rabies virus can only be transmitted by the saliva of an affected animal, through its scratches or bites, or via the animal’s spinal fluid.
“Infected animals will walk right up to people and do not exhibit any inherent fear that is typical of their species,” Dube said. “Any wild animal suspected of being rabid should be caught and tested as soon as possible.”
South Miami-area residents have expressed concern for letting their pets out in the evening, for fear of encountering another rabid animal.
Tips to Avoid the Deadly Disease and Identify Possible Infected Animals
Preventative measures that can and should be taken to protect yourself, your pets, and your home from rabies include:
Ensuring your animals are up to date on their rabies vaccine
Keep pets under direct supervision and on a leash if not fenced in
Contact local animal control to handle or remove stray animals
Avoiding any direct contact with feral or stray animals, even if they appear friendly
Securing lids on garbage cans to eliminate wild animals’ temptation
Bringing pet food or water sources inside that is typically left out overnight
Anyone bit or scratched by a wild or stray animal should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County at 305-324-2400.
“If you or anyone you know is bit by an animal unknown to you, seek medical attention immediately,” Dube warned. “Once symptoms appear, it’s often too late. Survival is rare even with treatment.”