West Nile Virus, Rabies: Be Vigilant In Wake Of Recent Warnings

If flooding from Tropical Storm Isaac wasn’t bad enough, the rainy season has brought another problem to our area — mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus. A case of West Nile virus was confirmed earlier this month. According to the Palm Beach County Health Department, a horse was euthanized after it was determined to have contracted the virus, marking the second case statewide and the first in our region.

Because of all the rain we’ve had lately, the mosquito population has flourished, making the outdoors a potential danger zone for people and animals. Fortunately, there have been only a handful of West Nile virus cases in Palm Beach County since 2001. This is due to people taking the necessary precautions as well as increased aerial spraying for mosquitoes. Still, the health department urges vigilance and suggests the following ways residents can make their properties less attractive to mosquitoes: drain any standing water; cover doors and window with screens (and fix any holes or tears); and cover yourself with clothing and use insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridi or IR3535 (and netting for babies under 2 months). For more information, visit www.pbcgov.com/erm/mosquito.

And mosquito-borne illness is not the only cause for concern. The health department reported that last week saw two cases of rabies in areas just outside of the western communities. The first happened last Thursday, when a raccoon attacked a dog on Caloosa Blvd. near the Bee Line Highway. Then, last Saturday, a Yorkie was attacked by a raccoon in a neighborhood east of Jog Road between Belvedere Road and Southern Blvd. According to the health department, with rabies being present in the wild animal population, domestic animals (and humans) are at risk if not vaccinated.

In addition to up-to-date vaccinations, the health department recommends owners keep their pets under direct supervision to avoid contact with wild animals; call Animal Care & Control to remove any stray animals; spay or neuter pets; avoid handling, feeding or unintentionally attracting wild animals with open garbage cans or litter; never adopt wild animals or bring them into the home; teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic; and prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces. To report a possible case of rabies, call Animal Care & Control at (561) 233-1200. Watching the end of Old Yeller is a painful experience for dog lovers. Having to live through something like that is another thing entirely, and it’s not something any dog owner should have to deal with.