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How is rabies spread?

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.


What do rabid animals look like?

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 have difficulty swallowing. They may stagger or become paralyzed. Rabies will kill most animals.


Which animals have been reported with rabies in Florida?

Rabid 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.


What should I do to protect myself, my family, and my pets from rabies?

  • 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 animals 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. DO 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 handled by animal control or county health department.

More questions about rabies?

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