Spring Hill - The Hernando County Health Department wants to warn residents of a rabid raccoon who recently bit and scratched a local teen and his dog.
According to reports, the raccoon attacked them in the Brookside Street area of Spring Hill on Monday, November 26.
The Health Department received confirmation from the Department of Health Laboratory in Tampa Wednesday that the raccoon tested positive for rabies.
This is the first rabid animal reported in Hernando County since June of 2011, when a fox exposed a couple in northern Hernando County and tested positive for rabies.
According to the Health Department, foxes, raccoons, bats, and skunks commonly carry the rabies virus. They say infected animals could be aggressive, attacking for no apparent reason, or they could act very tame. They also may drool a lot due to difficulty swallowing, and could stagger or become paralyzed.
The Hernando County Health Department recommends that residents and visitors always follow these guidelines to help prevent exposure to rabid animals:
- Vaccinate all dogs, cats and ferrets over the age of three months against rabies. Vaccinations should be performed by a licensed veterinarian.
- Avoid all free-roaming dogs, cats and wild animals.
- Do not allow pets to run free. Follow leash laws and keep pets and livestock secured on your property. Consider fencing areas that children and pets commonly use.
- Do not feed or pet wild animals. Secure garbage so that it does not attract wild animals.
- Contact the Hernando County Sheriff's Office at (352) 754-6830 to report stray animals or to report wild animals exhibiting aggressive or unusual behavior.
For more information on rabies contact the Hernando County Health Department at (352) 540-6800 extension 4.
Residents in the area are encouraged to report stray animals, or wild animals exhibiting aggressive or unusual behavior to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office at (352) 754-6830.