Cover image for illustrative purposes
From alligators to disease-carrying mosquitoes, Florida wildlife is scary enough as it is. Nicknamed “The Australia of America,” we locals can hardly deny the moniker. This summer seemed to be an especially threatening season with rabies cases in Orlando on the rise.
Even Disney was not safe from the disease. In July, a portion of Disney’s Epcot theme park had to be closed off to the public due to a feral cat tested positive for rabies. Officials feared the cat may have been in contact with and infected other animals, and the alert lasted for 60 days.
Two Disney cast members had been scratched by a cat who was a confirmed carrier, and after seeking medical treatment, they did not contract the disease.
Only a month after the year began, there were already over a dozen rabies cases confirmed in Florida, and they continue to be on the rise. In late August, there were two separate accounts of people being exposed to infected raccoons in Lake County.
Rabies is a potentially fatal disease and can be transmitted through exposure to saliva or nervous tissue from an infected animal through a bite, scratch, or contact with mucous membranes around the eyes, nose, or mouth.
Though signs are slightly different in each animal, generally rabies can be identified if an animal’s behavior is differing greatly from its norm. Excessive irritability, excitedness, or aggressiveness, dripping or frothy salivation are just a few tell-tale signs.
Another thing to watch out for is strange behavior in normally nocturnal animals that are out during the day.
The best way to avoid being infected is to not handle wild animals or feral animals, and if you do come in contact with animal within an alert zone, seek medical attention and contact Orange County Animal Services on (407) 254-9150.