Rabies Alert Issued For Orlando Florida Area

Orlando Florida Area Rabies Alert July 9, 2019 – September 10, 2019

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County issued a rabies alert until September 10, 2019 in Orange County, Florida. This alert was issued on July 9, 2019, in response to a feral cat testing positive for the rabies disease. The feral cat scratched two Disney cast members. Neither cast member contracted rabies, and both received medical treatment. The cat was put down by animal control. But, the identified cat may have infected other animals in the area.

Symptoms Outlined By The CDC

The CDC says you can only get the virus by being in contact with saliva or bodily secretions and tissues. Symptoms include:

  • Weakness, discomfort, fever or headache.
  • Discomfort, prickling or itching at site of bite.
  • Within days, cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, agitation and, with continual progression, delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations and insomnia.

The CDC says once the patient begins to see clinical signs of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal.

Bats are responsible for about 70 percent of rabies deaths among people who are infected with the rabies virus in the USA, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Contact with feral cats, stray dogs, and all wildlife particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats, and coyotes should be avoided. The CDC says 23 human cases of rabies have been reported in the USA between 2008-2017. Eight of these cases were contracted outside of the U.S. and its territories.

This decrease is largely due to routine pet vaccination and the availability of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which combines the rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin, to prevent infection after exposure to the virus. When traveling abroad, rabid dogs are a leading cause of rabies cases in Americans.

The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in this area of southwest Orange County.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system that can cause paralysis and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans. The virus is spread through saliva, and humans may become infected through a bite wound, scratch or exposure of a fresh cut to the saliva of a rabid animal.

Rabies is nearly always fatal if people don’t get rabies PEP before symptoms start.

Each year, about 55,000 people in the USA seek PEP services after potential rabies exposure. The CDC says the estimated public health expenditures on rabies disease diagnostics, prevention, and control in the USA is over $245 million dollars annually.

Rabies advice

  • All pets should have current rabies immunizations.
  • Secure outside garbage in covered containers to avoid attracting wild animals.
  • Do not leave pet food outside. This also attracts other animals.
  • Avoid contact with all wildlife, especially feral cats, raccoons, bats, and foxes.
  • If bitten or scratched by a suspected rabid animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, seek medical attention, and promptly report the incident to Orange County Animal Services (407) 254-9150.
  • Rabies is preventable when treatment is provided in a timely manner.
  • For general questions pertaining to animals, contact Orange County Animal Services (407) 254-9150.

Rabies vaccines

There are 2 vaccines approved in the USA, both contain inactivated rabies virus, and are considered as equally safe and effective:

  • HDCV vaccine (Imovax) is produced in human diploid cell culture.
  • PCECV vaccine (RabAvert) is produced in chick embryo cell culture.

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