Rabies warning in Lee County

CREATED Dec. 12, 2013

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - A warning was issued today by the Florida Department of Health in Lee County to the public about wild animals.

DOH-Lee says it is following five reported raccoon bites in less than three weeks.

 "Never feed wild or stray animals, don't leave your pet food outdoors or take your trash outside until pickup day," said Judith Hartner, MD, director of DOH-Lee. "Those steps will help you to avoid attracting wild animals."

Only one of the raccoons was captured and tested positive for rabies. It was found in the Estero area.

Little is known about the raccoons that bit two people in Fort Myers last week or two people in Cape Coral this week. All showed signs of distemper, which mimics rabies. Raccoons behaving strangely were also reported on Pine Island, although no bites to humans have been reported there.

Symptoms of rabies and distemper include aggressive behavior, attacking for no apparent reason, or unusually tame behavior. They may drool, stagger and be unable to eat or drink. Both diseases are fatal to animals and highly contagious. Rabies is fatal to humans, but can be prevented.

If a pet is attacked by a wild animal, only examine the injury while wearing gloves. Wash the injured area with soap and water to remove saliva from the attacking animal. Keep the pet isolated from animals and people until given appropriate instruction by Lee County Animal Control or the Florida Department of Health in Lee County.
 For more information call (239) 332-9501 or go to www.leechd.com.