SUMMERFIELD, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health in Marion County and Department of Health in Sumter County want Summerfield, Oxford and northwest residents of The Villages to be aware that a raccoon in their area has tested positive for rabies. People who live or work in the area (particularly those who live north of Sumter County Road 202, south of Southeast Highway 42 in Marion County, west of Southeast 76th Champion Ave. in The Villages, and east of Sumter County Road 200) should maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in the area.
Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:
- Avoid all contact with wildlife, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
- Never handle unfamiliar animals (wild or domestic), even if they appear friendly.
- Do not feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or trash.
- Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all pets.
- Keep pets under direct supervision so they do not come into contact with wild animals.
- Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas where they might encounter people and pets.
An animal with rabies could infect other animals that have not received a rabies vaccination. Domestic animals are at risk if they are not vaccinated, while rabies is always a danger in wild animal populations. This notice is designed to give public awareness but should not give residents a false sense of security if their area has not been named.
Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to humans and warm-blooded animals. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies-specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure will protect an exposed person from the disease.
If you have been bitten or scratched by a wild or domestic animal, seek medical attention and report the injury to your county health department. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek immediate veterinary assistance for the animal, and contact your county’s Animal Services department.
For more information on rabies, visit www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies.