Rabies Prevention and Control
There are few public health threats as concerning as the spread of rabies. A bite or scratch from an infected animal can spread this deadly viral disease from animal to animal or animal to person. It is a lethal disease, killing nearly 50,000 people and millions of animal worldwide.
The most common carriers of rabies in Florida are coyotes, bats, foxes and – most frequently – raccoons. Diseased animals may behave differently than healthy ones. They may stagger, behave aggressively, be out at times of the day when they wouldn’t normally (nocturnal raccoons active during the day) and may salivate excessively or "foam at the mouth."
Since rabies is such a dangerous disease, the most important way to protect yourself and your pets is to prevention of contact with rabies.
- Keep your pets’ rabies vaccinations current (dogs, cats, ferrets, sheep, horses and cattle). Vaccination of pets is the first line of defense against rabies. A vaccinated pet serves as a protective buffer between your family and a possible rabid wild or stray animal. Health officials recommend a three-year rabies vaccine as the most effective means of protecting your pet from rabies. Rabies vaccinations are available from your veterinarian.
- Do not feed or interact with wildlife or strays.
- Do not leave out food outdoors for pets or wildlife.
- Comply with leash laws.
- Report animal bites or scratches to Animal Services.
- Make sure your pet gets and wears their rabies vaccination tags. They should also wear a tag with their name and your address and phone number, and microchip your pet to insure his/her records can be found.
- Keep your pets under direct supervision incase they encounter strays or wild animals. Keep them in a fenced yard or on a leash. If a stray or wild animal bites your pet, seek veterinary assistance for your pet immediately.
- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call Animal Services or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
- Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
- DO NOT relocate raccoons, it is against the law in Pinellas County.
Citizens who have nuisance raccoons can contact a wildlife trapper. If bitten or scratched by a raccoon contact the bite department at (727) 582-2608. Relocating a raccoon is illegal and leads to fighting among raccoons and the spread of disease.
- Pinellas County Code
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