Rabies Alert issued for South Walton

August 16, 2012

Alert issued for south of U.S. Hwy. 98 and east of CR 393 to CR 283

Aug. 16, 2012 – Walton County – Holly Holt, Administrator, Walton County Health Department, has issued a rabies alert for the southern geographical region of Walton County.  This is in response to a fox attack reported on August 16, 2012.

All citizens in Walton County should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population and domestic animals are at risk if not vaccinated.  The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in Walton County.  Alerts are designated to increase awareness to the public, but they should not give a false sense of security to areas that have not been named as under an alert.

This rabies alert is in effect for 60 days.  The center of the rabies alert is for South Walton and includes the following area boundaries in Walton County:
· South of US Hwy 98 to the Gulf of Mexico
· East of County Road 393 to County Road 283

An animal with rabies could infect other animals or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies.  All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all contact with wildlife should be avoided; particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.  Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans.  The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies specific immune globulin and rabies immunization.  Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure will protect an exposed person from the disease.  Walton County Health Department urges the public to help protect themselves and to prevent the spread of rabies by taking the following steps:

•    Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all pets.
•    Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals.  If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact the Walton County Health Department at 850-892-8021 or Walton County Animal Control at 850-892-8758.
•    Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
•    Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
•    Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
•    Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
•    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.
•    Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Walton County Health Department at (850) 892-8021.

For further information on rabies, go to the Florida Department of Health website:  http://www.doh.state.fl.us/environment/medicine/rabies/rabies-index.html or contact Walton County Health Department (850) 892-8021 or Walton County Animal Control (850) 892-8758.