County health officials issue rabies alert

Alachua County Press Release

The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County has issued a rabies alert for citizens or their pets who may have come into contact with a raccoon found in the Home Depot parking lot at 5151 NW 13th St Gainesville Monday November 15th. This is in response to animal tests positive for the rabies virus.

All residents and visitors to Alachua County should be aware that rabies is present in the wildlife population and that pets are at risk if not vaccinated. The public is urged to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in Alachua County. Alerts are designed to educate the public, but they should not give a false sense of security to areas that have not been designated as alerted.

The recent rabies alert is for 60 days, but is specifically aimed at citizens or their pets who have encountered and may have been exposed by the raccoon on or just before Monday, November 15.

An animal with rabies could infect other wild or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies. All pets should be vaccinated against rabies and contact with wildlife should be avoided, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes. Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal in warm-blooded animals and humans. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies-specific immunoglobulin and rabies vaccination. Appropriate treatment, started soon after exposure, will protect an exposed person from the disease.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to take the following precautions:

  • Maintain rabies vaccinations for all pets.
  • Keep your pets under direct supervision so that they do not come into contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact Alachua County Animal Services, 352-264-6880.
  • Call your local animal control agency to remove all stray animals from your neighborhood.
  • Do not unintentionally handle, feed, or attract wildlife with open trash cans or litter.
  • Never adopt wild animals and never bring them into your home.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar, wild, or domestic animals, no matter how friendly they seem.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces of homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they may come into contact with people and pets.
  • People who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should see a doctor and report the injury to the Alachua County Florida Department of Health at 352-334-7930.