SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The Florida Department of Health expanded its rabies alert zone on Saturday for parts of Miami-Dade County. Now, area residents are on high alert.
According to a news release, the DOH in Miami-Dade extended the rabies zone after confirming that a second raccoon was killed by a car in Kendall and tested positive for rabies. The alert areas are as followed: north of Southwest 72nd Street, south of Southwest 128th Street, east of Southwest 87th Avenue and to the west of Florida’s Turnpike.
“That it expanded is not surprising,” said resident Jennifer Rogers. “If you find one, there’s bound to be more. But this news is pretty scary.”
The DOH said they are placing fliers on mailboxes and neighborhoods in the alert area. “We are facing a new case of rabies in a raccoon,” said DOH employee Lillian Rivera.
The zone previously included areas between Southwest 88th and 95th Streets and Southwest 117th and 107th Avenues.
Residents expressed their concern upon hearing of the rabies zone expansion. “I hadn’t worried too much about it because there was one case,” said dog owner Leslie Guitierrez. “But to have a second case in less than a week? That’s scary.”
“They hide in the bushes,” said dog owner Joanna Corradini. “Then at night, you see them scurrying across the street.”
Corradini said even taking her dog, Elvis, for a walk is now worrisome. “I take him when he has to go out,” she said. “It would have to beat me to death to get to Elvis.”
Rivera said there are ways for pet owners to protect their lovable companions. “Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all your pets. Keep them away from stray animals.”
The rabies zone now stretches to 50-plus streets by 40 avenues. “I feel that the health department needs to probably expand the zone west,” said Dr. Les Gerson, who was reportedly attacked by a rabid raccoon. “The information needs to get out to the people as far as petting stray cats.”
Gerson added too many people are unaware of the seriousness of rabies. “Now that we have two rabies cases, finally people are taking action,” he said. “Rabies is a disease that is almost always fatal.”
“What’s concerning is it affects everybody,” said Guitierrez.
According to the DOH, this is the second confirmed rabid animal this year in Miami-Dade County.
If you encounter a raccoon during this 60-day alert, officials are asking the public to call 3-1-1. For more information on rabies, click here.
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