Rabies Prevention Program
Rabies is a neurological disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans. The Epidemiology Program works closely with Charlotte County Animal Control to investigate animal exposures that may result in rabies infection.
With the cooperation of Charlotte County Animal Control, suspected rabid animals are quarantined and/or tested to determine if the animal may have transmitted rabies to a human or pet through a bite or scratch. The Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County (Charlotte CHD) also consults with patients, physicians, and veterinarians regarding the current recommendations for treating a rabies exposure.
Pre-Exposure to Rabies:
For those persons traveling to a place that requires rabies vaccine or if you are frequent an area where there is a good chance that you might be bitten by a rabid animal the health department offers pre-exposure immunization. Please call 941-624-7200 extension 7236.
Note: Please note for travel reasons pre-exposure vaccine is a 3 dose series and must be administered 3 weeks prior to travel.
Post-Exposure to Rabies:
Healthcare providers must report all animal bites as per Florida Administrative Code Chapter 64D-3 to Charlotte CHD, regardless of treatment provided. Animal bite reports should be faxed to 941-624-7277 using the Animal Bite Case Report Form.
Human exposure to rabies most frequently involves the bite of a rabid animal. A rabies exposure is defined as any bite, scratch, or other contact in which saliva or nervous tissue of a suspect or known rabid animal enters an open wound, or comes in contact with mucous membranes by entering the eye, mouth, or nose of another animal or person.
The healthcare provider, to whom the patient presents with the animal bite or other rabies exposure, has the responsibility to determine whether rabies Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is required, to counsel the exposed individual on risk and benefits of PEP and to begin PEP as appropriate and available.
Wound care should be given according to standard practices whether PEP is recommended or not. Even if the initiation of PEP is delayed, PEP should be administered as soon as possible if the patient is not demonstrating signs of encephalitis. Please consult Rabies Prevention and Control in Florida, 2014 for more information.
Individuals with potential rabies exposure, who have initiated PEP with their healthcare provider, should complete the PEP with that same provider. If, for any reason, PEP has not been initiated as required or cannot be completed by the initiating healthcare provider, the exposed individual may contact DOH-Charlotte Epidemiology Program at (941) 624-7200 extension 7236 to arrange for PEP. Healthcare providers may also call that number for consultation on rabies exposure.
For detailed information regarding rabies, please visit the Florida Department of Health website at: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/professionals.html
For a list of other reportable diseases/conditions, please refer to: List of Reportable Diseases/Conditions for Health Care Practitioners
If you have been bitten by an animal that either has or suspected to have rabies please call 941-624-7200 extension 7236 to arrange for immunization or call your healthcare provider.