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Vet says rabies flare-ups not a rarity
With three fox attacks this summer, the Florida Department
of Health in Franklin County is cautioning people to be extra careful outdoors with themselves and
Eastpoint veterinarian Dr. Hobson Fulmer said such a rash of
rabies is not uncommon.
Well see little flareups here and there, and then well go
a couple years without them, he said. Theyll come and go. Were in a hot
spot right now. They pop up all over the country.
Its always in the wild population, you cant get rid of it,
said Fulmer. Where I live, theres been some land clearing recently and it may
have stirred up some animals.
While the dog version is no longer existent in the wild, plenty
of animals do have it, with each species carrying their own version, such as
bats, skunks, foxes, raccoons and even bobcats, although it is not carried by opossums. Domestic and feral cats can and do get rabies, and should all be vaccinated.
Its still contagious to dogs and humans, he said.
If a dog is bitten, theyll be quarantined and theyll get a
booster rabies shot, Fulmer said. If a dog is vaccinated they dont have to be euthanized,
Fulmer said for humans to be careful if they see a wild
animal acting overly aggressive or overly friendly, if theyre not attacking
like foxes do.
department reported in May that at least three foxes had tested positive for
rabies, in locations as distant as Bay
City Road and Bluff Road in Apalachicola, and on Woodill Road in Carrabelle.
The only treatment for human exposure to
rabies, a disease of the nervous system fatal to warm-blooded animals and
humans, is rabies specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. Appropriate
treatment started soon after the exposure will protect an exposed person from
The health department advises pet owners to keep
rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets. If a pet is bitten by a wild
animal, seek veterinary assistance immediately and contact county animal
services at 850-670-4733.
Animal control should be called to remove any
stray animals from your neighborhood. People are strongly encouraged not to
handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals by leaving pet food
outside, or garbage cans open.
Never adopt wild animals or bring them into
your home, said DT Simmons, a spokeswoman for the health department. Teach
children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they
She also advises that property owners should
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.