Rabies alert issued for Melbourne neighborhood

A rabies advisory was issued for Melbourne neighborhood, after authorities say a pet fought and killed a rabid raccoon, exposing itself to the disease.  "I ended up picking up the raccoon and securing him in the back of my truck, so the kids in the park didn't mess with it or get any of that on them," says local trapper James Dean.  Dean has been hired by the Meadows Mobile Home Park to secure any animals, both wild and domestic.

Officials are asking all of residents to keep their pets inside. "Keep the food indoors, do not feed your animals outside, do not leave them attached to a leash," said Dean.  "The park already told me that that's not allowed in the park."

Dean removed the raccoon after the incident, and as result, had to receive the treatment for rabies just as a precaution.  That post-exposure treatment comes at a cost. "The typical cost for a 150-pound citizen is $3,492 for rabies post exposure," says Ray Walton with the Florida Department of Health in Brevard County.

The advisory will last for 30 days, and they're asking residents to be vigilant.  On average, 1 in 3 raccoons have rabies, but not all animals infected with the disease show the symptoms. In the end, officials say stay just away.

"Most people think that the animal will show signs and symptoms, foaming at the mouth, running around in circles, biting everything. That's not necessarily the case. There's two types of rabies," Walton explains. Officials say your pet's first line of defense is a rabies shot, not only for its safety, but if your pet encounters an animal with rabies and is exposed to it, without the vaccination, your pet could be euthanized.