February 28, 2019
In Florida, raccoons, bats, foxes and unvaccinated cats are the animals most frequently diagnosed with rabies. Other animals that are at high risk for rabies include skunks, otters, coyotes, bobcats, stray or unvaccinated dogs and ferrets.
Rabies can be passed through the saliva and nervous tissue of a rabid animal through a bite or scratch or through contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth.
The following are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones against rabies:
- Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets and at-risk livestock.
- Do not allow your pets to run free. Follow leash laws by keeping pets and livestock secured on your property. If your pet or livestock are bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
- Support animal control in efforts to reduce feral and stray animal populations.
- Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.
- Do not handle, feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with outdoor food sources such as uncovered trash 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.
- Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to your county health department.
For further information on rabies, go to http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/index.html.
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.