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Rabies found in Okaloosa County

On June 27, 2017, a rabies alert was issued for the 32547 zip code in Fort Walton Beach. The alert is set to expire in 60 days.  A feral cat tested positive for rabies in that area.  Residents should be cautious around feral and wild animals.

Mammals are infected by the rabies virus. This virus is normally fatal if treatment isn’t started immediately.  Rabies affects the central nervous system.  It is transmitted through saliva, tears and central nervous system fluids.  Most often, this virus is transmitted through saliva when an infected animal bites another animal or human.

Pets and livestock can be vaccinated against this virus which will help limit the spread of this disease.

Rabies vaccinations save animals’ lives and prevent the spread of rabies.

Animals infected with rabies act abnormally. They may act aggressive or unusually passive.  Rabid animals may be active at odd times of the day such as raccoons wandering around in the middle of the day.  Classic symptoms such as foaming at the mouth and drooling occur because animals lose the ability to swallow.  Also, infected animals begin to move slowly and have difficulty walking.  They usually die within a week of becoming sick.

Report stray or wild animals that are acting abnormally to animal control. Avoid contact with these animals.  Also, avoid contact with dead animals as the virus can survive in tears, saliva and brain and nervous tissue.  High risk animals include raccoons, bats, skunks, coyotes, foxes, otters, bobcats, stray dogs and stray/feral cats.

If you are bitten or scratched by a high risk animal:

  1. Clean the site with soap and running water for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Go to a doctor, clinic or hospital for treatment.
  3. Call your county health department and the county animal control to report the incident.

Facts about Wildlife Diseases: Rabies