Rabies alert issued in Gulf County

The Florida Department of Health in Gulf County has issued a rabies alert for Gulf County in response to a fox that tested positive for the disease on June 22, 2022.

The alert will be active for 60 days.

An individual was attacked by the fox near Hwy 71 and Church Ave in Wewahitchka.  The DOH encourages residents and visitors in the area to take extra caution while outdoors and be aware of their surroundings at all times. 

The department of health issued a warning to Gulf County residents yesterday following two fox attacks in the area, during which they said the foxes exhibited strange behavior consistent with rabies. At that time, they had not yet recieved the positive test result.

“All residents and visitors of Gulf County should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population,” the DOH said in a release.

They went on to encourage individuals in areas outside of the specified attack locations also exercise caution.

“The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in Gulf County. Alerts are designed to increase awareness to the public, but they should not give a false sense of security to areas that have not been named as under an alert.”

An animal with rabies could infect other wild animals or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies.

All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies, and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly with raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system, and it is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies-specific immune globulin and rabies immunization.  Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure will protect an exposed person from the disease.

The following advice is issued:

  • Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.
  • If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact County Animal Services at 850-227-1115.
  • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
  • Do not  handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals by leaving pet food outside, or garbage cans open.
  • 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.
  • Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health Gulf County at 850-227-1276.

For more information about the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County, please visit gulf.floridahealth.gov

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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