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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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Rabies Surveillance

Florida Department of Health in Liberty County

The Environmental Health Division responds to all reported animal bites in Liberty County. Our mission is to eradicate this fatal disease through educating the public on the importance of pet vaccination and enforcement.

Rabies is preventable; however, many deaths still occur every year across the globe.  Rabies is transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal and the vast majority of cases occur in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Domestic animals account for less than 10% of the reported rabies cases.

A rabies exposure is considered any bite, scratch, or other situation in which saliva or nervous tissue of a potentially rabid animal enters an open or fresh wound, or comes in contact with mucous membranes by entering the eye, mouth or nose of another animal.

Our Inspector must follow protocol outlined in Florida Law.  This protocol is for the safety of the bite victim and the biting animal. Your cooperation is very important for the prevention of this deadly disease!

Quarantine (Isolation):

Bite to a person or exposure to raccoon, bat, skunk, fox or other high risk animal:

•Dogs, cats and ferrets: 10 day quarantine from time of bite (regardless of vaccination status)
•Horses: 14 day quarantine from time of bite (regardless of vaccination status)
•All other animals do not fall under quarantine requirements. However, certain animals such as rodents may carry other diseases, so medical attention is always recommended if bitten.


Investigation Procedures:
If the biting animal (raccoon, skunk, bat, fox, coyote, bobcat, and wolf hybrid or exotic cat hybrids) is available:

•Human victim should immediately see a doctor.
•Animal will be tested for rabies (will be euthanized).
•Brain sample is submitted to laboratory for testing.
(Dog, Cat or Ferret)

•Human victim should immediately see a doctor.
•If rabies vaccination is current, animal will be immediately quarantined for 10 days.  Quarantine at home is possible; however, specific DOH guidelines must be followed.
•If rabies vaccination is not current, animal must be quarantined for 10 days at veterinarian clinic or animal shelter at the owner’s expense.
•If the quarantine period results in a “live” animal, the animal is removed from quarantine and human victim is not in danger (was not exposed to rabies).
(Horse)

•Human victim should immediately see a doctor.
•If rabies vaccination is current, animal will be immediately quarantined for 14 days.  Quarantine at owner’s property is possible; however, specific DOH guidelines must be followed.
•If rabies vaccination is not current, animal must be quarantined for 14 days at veterinarian clinic at the owner’s expense.
•If the quarantine period results in a “live” animal, the animal is removed from quarantine and human victim is not in danger (was not exposed to rabies).
(Stray Dog, Cat or Ferret)

•Human victim should immediately see a doctor.
•Animal is sent to Animal Shelter for 10 day quarantine, if available.           
•If the quarantine period results in a “live” animal, the animal is removed from quarantine and human victim is not in danger (was not exposed to rabies).

If the biting animal is not available:

•Human victim should immediately see a doctor.
•The physician will determine if rabies treatment (post exposure vaccine and immune globulin) is necessary based on biting animal, bite circumstance and appearance of symptoms.
•The Florida Department of Health in Liberty County's (DOH-Liberty) Epidemiology staff will follow up on the case.

Additional Resources

Information for Rabies Professionals

CDC: Rabies and kids

Dog Bite Prevention