Health officials remind owners to get pets vaccinated after a rabid raccoon attacked a Riverview dog

A pet owner found a rabid raccoon attacking his dog Tuesday, forcing his dog to be quarantined, according to the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County (DOH-Hillsborough).

Health officials said they are not issuing a rabies alert since the incident occurred away from neighborhoods and in a rural area. 

“However, this incident serves as a reminder to ensure pets are up-to-date on rabies vaccination. It should be expected that there is always some level of the virus in our wildlife population,” according to a DOH-Hillsborough press release.

The dog was taken to a nearby veterinary clinic and was treated for wounds, received a rabies vaccine, and is expected to recover. The dog will be quarantined to make sure it doesn’t get sick.

Health officials tested the raccoon, and the results came back positive for rabies. They said they will notify all homes within a 500-foot radius, but officials didn’t specify where in Riverview the notifications will occur.

An animal with rabies could infect other animals, wild or domestic. Health officials suggest that all domestic animals be vaccinated against rabies, and all contact with wildlife should be avoided.

Rabies is described as a disease of the nervous system, and could be fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans. The only treatment for humans is a rabies-specific immune globulin and a rabies immunization. Treatment should start as soon as the exposure occurs, according to health officials.

DOH offered the following precautions:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you are bitten by any animal seek care promptly. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Go to your family doctor or hospital for medical attention immediately.
  • Contact Hillsborough County Animal Services at (813) 307-8000, or Hillsborough County Pet Resource center at (813) 744-5660.
  • Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922 for concerns about wild animals.