By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Florida health officials in Marion and Sumter counties are advising residents of The Villages,  Summerfield and Oxford  that a raccoon in their area has tested positive for rabies.

Raccoon image/CDC

People who live or work in the area (particularly those who live north of Sumter County Road 202, south of Southeast Highway 42 in Marion County, west of Southeast 76th Champion Ave. in The Villages, and east of Sumter County Road 200) should maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in the area.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Avoid all contact with wildlife, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Never handle unfamiliar animals (wild or domestic), even if they appear friendly.
  • Do not feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or trash.
  • Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all pets.
  • Keep pets under direct supervision so they do not come into contact with wild animals.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas where they might encounter people and pets.

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Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to humans and warm-blooded animals. 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.

If you have been bitten or scratched by a wild or domestic animal, seek medical attention and report the injury to your county health department. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek immediate veterinary assistance for the animal, and contact your county’s Animal Services department.

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