ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla.-- The St. Lucie County Health Department has issued a rabies advisory and is urging residents to avoid contact with wild and stray animals.
The health department said a bat with exposure to a pet was reported to have tested positive for rabies this month.
“Rabies is a fatal but preventable disease. It is important not to handle wild animals, to be aware of unusual-acting animals, and to keep pets vaccinated against rabies,” St. Lucie County Health Officer Clint Sperber said in a news release.
The health department said the animals most frequently diagnosed with rabies in Florida are raccoons, bats, foxes, and unvaccinated cats.
Those at high risk for the disease are skunks, otters, coyotes, bobcats, stray or unvaccinated dogs and ferrets.
The St. Lucie County Health Department offers this advice:
• Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets and at-risk livestock.
• Do not allow your pets to run free. Follow leash laws by keeping pets and livestock secured on your property. If your pet or livestock are bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact your local animal control agency.
• Support animal control in efforts to reduce feral and stray animal populations.
• 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 outdoor food sources such as uncovered trash 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.
• Persons bitten or scratched by a wild animal or stray should seek medical attention immediately and report the incident to your local animal services and to DOH-St. Lucie at 772-462-3883.
The St. Lucie County Health Department said what it originally classified as a rabies alert is only a rabies advisory.