Per Florida Dept of Health….
John H. Armstrong, MD, FACS
State Surgeon General
Florida Department of Health
Nassau County Health Department – Environmental Health Division Mailing: PO Box 15100, Fernandina
Beach, FL 32035
96135 Nassau Place, Suite B • Yulee, Florida 32097
Phone: (904) 548-1830 • Fax: (904) 277-7278 • http://www.nassaucountyhealth.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Michael Godwin
October 09, 2013 (904)548-1830
Health Officials Urge Residents to Avoid Contact with Wild and Stray Animals
FERNANDINA BEACH — On October 8, 2013, the Florida Department of Health in Nassau County received a
report of a raccoon that tested positive for rabies. The raccoon was captured and tested after
attacking a pet dog. This is reminder of the importance to vaccinate pets against rabies. In
addition, the Florida Department of Health in Nassau County urges residents to avoid contact with
wild and stray animals to protect themselves from the risk of rabies exposure.
In Florida, raccoons, bats and foxes, and unvaccinated cats are the animals most frequently
diagnosed with rabies. Other animals that are at high risk for rabies include skunks, otters,
coyotes, bobcats, and stray or unvaccinated dogs and ferrets. Each year, Nassau County receives
reports of rabid animals. Since the beginning of 2013, a total of four rabid raccoons have been
reported in Nassau County.
“Rabies is a potentially fatal disease. It is important not to handle wild animals, to be aware of
unusual acting animals, and to keep pets vaccinated against rabies,” said Dr. Eugenia Ngo- Seidel,
Director, Florida Department of Health, Nassau County.
Rabies is transmitted through exposure to the saliva and nervous tissue from a rabid animal through
a bite, scratch, or contact with mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, or mouth. The Florida
Department of Health in Nassau County works with Nassau County Animal Services and the Nassau
Humane Society in responding to incidents of animal bites, tests animals for rabies through the
Department of Health state laboratory, and quarantines animals as necessary. The Florida
Department of Health in Nassau also provides evaluation for rabies vaccinations to victims of
animal bites, the only known effective treatment for rabies prevention in humans.
The following are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones against rabies:
• 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 and
contact local animal control services
• Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
• Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly
cared for or regularly vaccinated.
• 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
• 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.
• Unusual acting animals should be reported to animal control services. Anyone who is bitten or
scratched by wild animals or strays should report the incident to their doctor immediately, as well
as animal control services and the health department.
Contact information for animal control services in Nassau County are: The Nassau County Animal
Services (for county residents) at (904)491-7440, or the Nassau Humane Society (for City of
Fernandina residents) at (904)321-1647. For animal bite reporting contact the Florida Department of
Health in Nassau County at (904) 548-1830.
For further information on rabies, go to the Florida Department of Health website:
http://www.doh.state.fl.us/environment/medicine/rabies/rabies-index.html, or contact the Florida
Department of Health in Nassau County, Michael Godwin, Environmental Health Office, at 904-