Health Care

Second rabid raccoon found and rabies alert zone extended

In this 2006 photograph, a raccoon peers into a garbage can as it prepares to eat scraps found at the Oleta River Shelter at Greynolds Park in North Miami.
In this 2006 photograph, a raccoon peers into a garbage can as it prepares to eat scraps found at the Oleta River Shelter at Greynolds Park in North Miami. Miami Herald file

The boundaries of Miami-Dade County’s first rabies alert in 16 years grew after the health department discovered a second rabid raccoon in Kendall.

The new zone extends from Southwest 72nd Street to the north, Southwest 128th Street to the south, Southwest 87th Avenue to the east and Florida’s Turnpike to the west. Anyone within it should be aware of potential rabid animals for the next 60 days.

Lab testing confirmed Saturday that a raccoon killed by a car in Kendall was rabid, the second such case in the neighborhood announced this week. On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health reported that a rabid raccoon — the first confirmed in the county since 2001 — had tested positive for the virus after being captured in Kendall.

Without prompt treatment, the disease can be fatal to any mammal, including humans. Animals without the rabies vaccine are susceptible to the virus.

Lillian Rivera, of the Florida Department of Health, said rabid raccoons in urban areas are uncommon, but citizens can protect themselves by making sure their pets are up-to-date on rabies vaccinations and by avoiding wild animals.

“At this point it’s basically ‘Protect yourself,’ ” she said. “People don’t think cats are feral, but they are. Dogs too.”

Kendall-area residents should stay away from any wild animals, including bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes. Residents should call 311 if they think an animal is rabid or if their pet is bitten.

The health department is going door-to-door in the affected area to warn residents, Rivera said, and officials are talking with local schools, Baptist Hospital and Miami Dade College, both of which have branches within the zone.

Miami Dade College emailed the news to students, faculty and staff on its Kendall campus Friday evening and assured everyone “we are following procedures to mitigate these issues.”

The previous zone covered Southwest 88th and 95th Streets from Southwest 107th to 117th Avenues.

For further information on rabies, go to http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/index.html or call the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County at 305-324-2400, or Miami-Dade County Animal Services at 311.

Alex Harris: 305-376-5005, @harrisalexc

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