Health officials issue rabies alert for Seminole County

This micrograph depicts the histopathologic changes associated with rabies encephalitis prepared using an H&E stain. [Centers for Disease Control]

The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County (DOH-Seminole) has issued a rabies alert.

They said that the alert was issued after a raccoon tested positive for rabies near Sunrise Community Park in Winter Springs. Residents within the borders of Tuskawilla Road, State Road 417, Winter Springs Boulevard and Red Bug Lake Road are urged to avoid contact with racoons and other wildlife.

This rabies alert is reportedly active for 60 days.

Residents and visitors of Seminole County should be aware that animals -- both domestic and wild -- in the area are at risk for rabies if not vaccinated. Rabies activities can still occur outside the alert, as well. An animal with rabies can infect other wild or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated. All domestic animals should be vaccinated.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system. It can cause paralysis and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. The virus is spread through saliva. Humans may be infected through a bite wound, scratch, or exposure of a fresh cut to saliva of a rabid animal. 

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The  Florida DOH-Seminole advises that:

  • All pets should have current rabies immunizations.
  • Secure outside garbage in covered containers to avoid attracting wild animals.
  • Do not leave pet food outside. This also attracts other animals.
  • Avoid contact with all wildlife, especially feral cats, raccoons, bats, and foxes.
  • If bitten or scratched by a suspected rabid animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, seek medical attention, and promptly report the incident to Seminole County Animal Services.
  • Rabies is preventable when treatment is provided in a timely manner.

If you or someone you know has been in contact with a racoon in that area, please contact the Seminole County Animal Services at 407-665-5201 or the Florida DOH-Seminole at 407-665-3266.

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More information on rabies can be found on the DOH website.

This story was written in Orlando, Florida.