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Raccoon tests positive, Marion County officials issue rabies alert

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It’s time to take Bo-bo, Fluffy and Rex to get vaccinated.

The Marion County Health department issued a rabies alert for Northern Marion County on Friday after results confirmed a raccoon tested positive for the disease.

Craig Ackerman, spokesman for the Marion County Health Department, said people should stay away from wild animals in the area, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, bobcats, otters, coyotes and other carriers.

“Raccoons may look cute, but they are a wild animal.”  he said. “It’s just good to treat wild animals as they are— as wild animals.”

Rabid animals can infect unvaccinated wild or domesticated animals with the fatal disease, although human deaths in the U.S. average two or three each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ackerman said people should make sure their dogs, cats, ferrets and other domesticated animals are vaccinated.

“We just want to be sure that people don’t have a false sense of security becuase raccons and other wild animals can carry the rabies infection.” he said. “Just because you’re not in the alert area we want to be sure that you’re still vigilant and you make sure that your animals are vaccinated.”

The alert will last for 60 days. If a person is bit by a wild or domestic animal, Ackerman said, contact the Marion County Health Department at 352-622-7744.

 Jenna Lyons wrote this story online.

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