Rabies alert issued after otter tests positive in Nassau County

Make sure pet vaccines are up-to-date to avoid exposure

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – A rabid otter in Nassau County has prompted a rabies alert from the health department.

Health officials warned after the otter tested positive for rabies that residents and visitors to the county should be aware the disease is present in the wild animal population. Pets that aren't vaccinated are at risk of being infected by a wild animal.

All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats, and coyotes, officials said.

The rabies alert will last for 60 days and includes the following boundaries in Nassau County:

  • St. Marys River to the North and East
  • US Hwy 1 the West
  • County Road 121 and Tracy Road to the South

But health officials warned rabies could be present outside the alert area also.

Rabies is a 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.

From January to June, there have been two animals reported in Duval County with rabies and this marks the second animal in Nassau County. 

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood. Nassau Humane Society is the animal control agency for the City of Fernandina Beach, and Nassau County Animal Services is the agency for all other parts of the county.
  • Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.
  • Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact Nassau County Animal Services at 904-530-6150, or the Nassau Humane Society at 904-491-0122 for incidents in the city of Fernandina Beach.
  • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.
  • Outdoor feeding can attract animals such as feral cats, raccoons, and coyotes. Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they might come in contact with people and pets.

For further information on rabies, go to http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/index.html or contact Nassau County Health Department at 904-875-6100.

About the Authors: