There have been two human deaths in the state of Florida from rabies since October 2017. Both of these cases were contracted by the scratch or bite of an infected bat. The Florida Department of Health (Floridahealth.gov) confirmed 60 cases of rabies from January through September 2017. Of these cases 26 were reported in raccoons, 16 (bats), 9 (cats), 6 (foxes), 2 (skunks) and 1 (dog), however, all mammals are susceptible to rabies.
Rabies is a viral infection that is transmitted by an infected animal to other animals and humans via their saliva. A rabid animal bites or scratches causing a break in the skin allowing the contaminated saliva to cause the infection. Initially the symptoms are vague with fever and headache but if not right away, will progress to delirium, abnormal behaviors, and hallucinations. If untreated rabies is 100% deadly.
The health department recommends keeping ALL pets up to date on their rabies vaccines as the most important preventative measure for pet owners. With rabies on the rise, our doctors have concluded that we will be requiring ALL PETS to be current on their rabies vaccines with the following exceptions of an “active” cancerous condition or a documented auto-immune disease. These exceptions were determined by consulting with local veterinary specialists regarding their protocols. Of course, we would never want to jeopardize our patient’s health, so we will consider each on an individual basis.
We love our patients, their owners and our staff, and we want to make sure all are protected from this deadly virus! Although rare, vaccine reactions can occur. However, please know that our hospital uses the safest, most effective vaccines available. Additional recommendations from the health department are to avoid handling, feeding, or attracting wild animals, teaching children to steer clear of unfamiliar animals (domestic or wild), and to close any possible spaces which would allow bats to enter your home.
Any person bitten or scratched by a wild animal or pet without a documented, up-to-date rabies vaccine, should seek medical attention without delay, contact Broward County Animal Care, and the Broward County Health Department.