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St. Johns Rabies Alert Likely; What To Do Now

3:58 AM, Nov 3, 2011   |    comments
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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla -- As Animal Control officials continue their search for the raccoon that attacked a little girl at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, they are warning area residents to be aware of the signs of rabies.

According to Paul Studivant, Division Chief for St. Johns County Animal Control, there is no way to know if the raccoon involved is infected with rabies.  However, because of the aggressive nature of the attack, he says that is highly likely.  Studivant said one in three raccoons carries the rabies virus. 

"Overly friendly, super aggressive-these are the signs of rabies or canine distemper.  They both look alike," explained Studivant.

If you encounter an animal that is acting in a threatening manner and may be infected with rabies, you should call Animal Control at (904) 209-0746.  After regular business hours, you can call (904) 829-2226.

"If it is an imminent threat, meaning somebody has been bitten, scratched or is trapped by the animal, we will respond," Studivant said.  "If it is a nuisance wildlife call, we will not respond."

Animal Control officers and FSDB employees will continue to monitor raccoon traps on the campus for at least the next week.  The county will not test the raccoons they catch for rabies before putting them down. 

Studivant encourages people with pets to make sure their animal's rabies vaccine is up to date.

"The best thing pet owners can do right now is to make sure all their domesticated animals are current on their rabies shots.  If there is, which I am sure there is going to be, a rabies alert in the area, if an animal is caught roaming without current rabies, it could be quarantined here for up to three months." 

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