The first alarm was sounded when a raccoon received by the Environmental Health Division of the Jackson County Health Department on February 27, 2009 tested positive for rabies according to lab results received from the Department of Health Pensacola Branch Lab. The raccoon fought with and was killed by two dogs at a home on Magnolia Rd., south of Marianna. The dogs have been placed in quarantine to prevent possible spread of the disease.
Then just a few days later on March 5, a second similar incident occurred at a rural home on Kenya Trail, east of Marianna. This raccoon also fought with and was killed by dogs, and the dogs have been placed in quarantine. This raccoon also tested positive for rabies.
T.G. Harkrider, Environmental Health Director at the Jackson County Health Department stated that "anyone having knowledge of bites or other exposure from a suspected rabid animal to humans or to domestic animals should immediately contact the Health Department at 482-9227 during normal working hours". The Jackson County Health Department has an answering service to relay information for assistance after hours and on weekends concerning animal bites and other exposure. This answering service can be reached by calling 526-2412. "Please call us with information and questions related to exposure" Harkrider stated emphatically. "We need to act quickly in some cases to save people’s lives. Never shoot a biting animal in the head" he added. "An intact brain is needed to determine if the animal is rabid. If you shoot them in the head and destroy the brain, we have to assume the animal was rabid. Without negative lab results, the full range of treatment to the victim has to begin at once. Please call us! We are reachable 24 hours a day and 7 days a week through our answering service at 526-2412".
Residents are also reminded that Jackson County and the State of Florida have laws requiring vaccination of all dogs and cats. PLEASE HAVE YOUR PET(S) VACCINATED.
For additional information contact T.G. Harkrider, Jr. Environmental Health Director for the Jackson County Health Department at 850-482-9227.