MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Concerns are growing after a second raccoon with rabies was found in Kendall over the weekend.
In reaction, the health department expanded the perimeter of a public health alert. Some are asking if that is enough.
Both rabid raccoons were found in the general area to the north of Miami-Dade College’s Kendall Campus.
The health department is asking everyone to get pets vaccinated and to avoid wild animals.
Doctor Ian Kupkee, a Kendall-based veterinarian at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic, has had a busy weekend.
Pet owners are making sure their pet’s rabies shots are up to date and those in need of one, are not taking any chances.
“We saw it on the news and we called and scheduled an appointment,” said local pet owner Ryan.
Doctor Kupkee gave Ryan’s pet Weezer his rabies shots. He was quite brave.
But are rabies shots going to be enough to end what could be the beginning of a rabies problem?
A week ago retired veterinarian Les Gerson was attacked.
“I’m standing there and he comes and attack me,” said Dr. Gerson. “Physically attacks me. Saliva everywhere.”
And then roadkill on Kendall drive tested positive for rabies as well.
Saturday Miami-Dade’s Health Department issued an expanded public health alert.
They passed out flyers and the county has sent out nearly 40,000 phone messages to area homeowners.
Reality is Miami-Dade hasn’t seen rabies since 2001, that’s before the iPhone and even the iPod were invented.
“Who is patient zero?” asked Doctor Kupkee. “And why after 15 years, all the sudden there is two. Whenever you find one you have to assume there is another. But at some point an infected animal wandered into this area from a place where rabies is to a place where rabies isn’t. And raccoons can cover a lot of ground.”
And that’s the biggest concern. This could be a growing, moving target.
At this point no agencies are planning to trap or vaccinate wild animals.
The health department stating right now it’s about educating the public to stay safe and educating doctors on how to treat rabies should more people be attacked.
“Make sure your pets are current on rabies,” advised Doctor Kupkee. “Make sure your pets are not left outside.”
Doctor Kupkee warns that not all rabid animals are frothing at the mouth. Some have a quote “dumb” version of the disease.
“That’s actually what they call it,” said Doctor Kupkee. “The dumb form is when they are disoriented or glassy eyed. They usually look drunk. Sometimes they can be unusually friendly. The point being it’s wildlife acting strangely to you.”
It’s important to tell your children to stay away from wild animals. If anyone is bitten or scratched you should go to emergency room immediately.
As for testing, the health department told us today they will be testing animals that are found to have interacted with people or pets meaning scratched or bitten them. They do not plan to test road kill though.