ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- In response to a raccoon that tested positive for rabies on August 14, awarning has been issued for St. John's County, according to a FloridaHealth press release.

The rabies alert was issued by Dawn C. Allicock, M.D., M.P.H., C.P.H., Director and Health Officer of the Florida Department of Health in St. John's County.

All citizens in St. John's County should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population and domestic animals are at risk if not vaccinated. All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided.

The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in St. John's County and particularly avoid raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.

This rabies alert is for 60 days. The center of the rabies alert is located at the 2400 block of U.S. 1 South, and includes the following are boundaries in St. John's County:

  • North to State Road 312
  • South to Gerona Road
  • East to the Intracoastal Waterway
  • West to Dobbs Road

Alerts are designed to increase awareness to the public, but they should not give a false sense of security to areas that have not been named as under alert.

Rabies is disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. 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.

The following advice is issued:

  • 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.
  • For questions regarding the health of an animal, contact a veterinarian.
  • Veterinarian staff and animal control staff should be alert for animals encountered with signs suspicious for rabies and use appropriate precautions, especially when working with unvaccinated animals.
  • Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County at 904-825-5055, Ext. 1084.
  • Rabies is preventable when treatment is provided in a timely manner.
  • Avoid contact with all wildlife, especially raccoons, bats, and foxes.
  • No animal is too young to have rabies.

For general questions about animals or to report a suspicious or aggressive animal, contact St. John's County Animal Control at (904) 209-0746. For further information about rabies, please visit the Florida Department of Health website or contact the Florida Department of Health in St. John's County at (904) 825-5055 Extension 1084.