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Rabies Surveillance

The Florida Department of Health in Suwannee County, Environmental Health Section

  • How is Rabies Spread?
  • What Do Rabid Animals Look Like?
  • Which Animals Have Been Reported With Rabies in Florida?
  • What Do I Do If An Animal Bites Me?
  • What do I do to protect myself, my family and my pets from rabies?
  • Safety Tips for Adults and Children
  • Safety Tips For Dog Owners
  • Links
When an animal is sick with rabies, the virus is shed in
the saliva and can be passed to another animal or a
person, usually through a bite. Transmission may also
occur if this saliva or the animal’s nervous tissue enters
open wounds, the mouth, nose or eyes of another
animal or person.

Animals with rabies may show strange behavior -- they can be aggressive, attacking for no apparent  reason, or act very tame (especially wild animals). They may not be able to eat, drink or swallow. They may drool because they cannot swallow their saliva. They may stagger or become paralyzed. Eventually they will die.


Raccoons have been reported most frequently followed
by bats and foxes. Since the 1980s, rabid cats were
reported more frequently than rabid dogs. Rabid
bobcats, skunks, otters, horses, cattle and ferrets have
also been reported.
  • Control bleeding and wash the area of the bite with soap and water.
  • Report the bite to your local county health department, animal control agency, or police.
  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate all of your dogs, cats, ferrets and horses against rabies, and make sure you follow your veterinarian’s instructions for revaccination.
  • Avoid contact with wild or stray animals.
  • Never feed wild or stray animals—avoid attracting them with outdoor food sources (like uncovered trash).  Feed your pets indoors.
  • Do not allow your pets to run free. Follow leash laws by keeping pets and livestock secured on your property.
  • Support animal control in your community.
  • If your animal is attacked by a wild, stray or unvaccinated animal, DO NOT examine your pet for injuries without wearing gloves. Wash your pet with soap and water to remove saliva from the attacking animal. DO NOT let your animal come into contact with other animals or people until the situation can be dealt with by animal control or county health department staff.
  • Children should never approach or play with dogs unless supervised by an adult.
  • Children should tell an adult if they see a stray dog or a dog acting strangely.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is
  • Adults should never leave an infant or young child alone with any dog, not even the family pet.
  • sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not look a dog right in the eyes.
  • If a dog knocks you over, roll into a ball, cover your face and stay still.
  • If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.
  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Never run from a dog and never scream around a dog.
  • Before getting a dog, seek the advice of a veterinarian or animal shelter personnel about which dog is right for your family and your lifestyle.
  • Confine your dog in a fenced yard or "dog run" when it is outside.
  • Do not leave your dog on a chain for long periods of time. Chained dogs are more likely to bite.
  • Do not play aggressive games with your dog.
  • Do not put your dog in situations where it may feel threatened or teased.
  • Follow leash laws. Don't let your dog roam freely.
  • Keep your dog healthy with regular check-ups and a vaccination program tailored to your dog's needs.
  • Make sure your veterinarian vaccinates your dog against rabies with a licensed rabies vaccine.
  • See a veterinarian promptly if your dog is sick or injured. Illness and pain can make a dog more likely to bite.
  • Spay or neuter your dog.
  • Socialize with your dog so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Train your dog to consistently obey basic commands such as "stay," "sit," and "come."