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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Rabies alert issued in Marion after horse tests positive

The Florida Department of Health in Marion County (DOH-Marion) has issued a rabies alert after an unvaccinated horse tested positive for rabies.

Local health officials state that the source of the transmission is currently under investigation. Marion County residents who live or work in the following area are strongly advised to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active nearby:

  • North of County Road 329.
  • South of NW 142 Place.
  • East of NW Gainesville Road.
  • West of N US Hwy 441/301.

This rabies alert will be in effect for 60 days, according to DOH-Marion.

An animal with rabies could infect other animals that have not received a rabies vaccination. Rabies is always a danger in wild animal populations, and domestic animals are at risk if they are not vaccinated.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to humans and warm-blooded animals. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies-specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. To protect an exposed person from the disease, appropriate treatment should be started soon after exposure.

If you have been bitten or scratched by a wild or domestic animal, seek medical attention and report the injury to DOH-Marion by calling 352-629-0137.

In the event that your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek immediate veterinary assistance for the animal, and contact Marion County Animal Services at 352-671-8727.

Residents and visitors in Marion County are advised to take the following precautions to prevent exposure to rabies:

  • Avoid all contact with wildlife, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats, and coyotes. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Never handle unfamiliar animals (wild or domestic), even if they appear friendly.
  • Do not feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or trash.
  • Keep rabies vaccinations current for all pets.
  • Keep pets under direct supervision so they do not come into contact with wild animals.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas where they might encounter people and pets.

For more information, visit the Florida Department of Health’s “Rabies” webpage.