Rabies alert issued in Zephyrhills after rabid raccoon attacked dog

Health officials issued a rabies alert for one Pasco County neighborhood after a rabid raccoon was discovered. 

The alert was issued for residents and visitors in the southwest region of Zephyrhills. A raccoon was tested after it attacked an owned dog on Wednesday. The dog was recently vaccinated against rabies, but was placed on observation, according to the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County. 

The rabies alert is for 60 days, and is meant to increase awareness for those within the following boundaries: 

North: Eiland Boulevard
East: 20th Street
South: Tucker Road
West: Coates Road and Dean Dairy Road

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 Pasco County Animal Services at (727) 834-3216, (813) 929-1212, or (352) 521-5194 to report animal bites or scratches.
- Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922 for concerns about wild animals.