DOH-Miami-Dade County Epidemiology Disease Control and Immunization Services
Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. In the state of Florida, the most frequently reported rabid domestic mammals are outdoor cats, while raccoons, bats, and foxes are the most common wildlife sources of rabies (1). For this reason, domesticated dogs and cats are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies in the state of Florida, this requirement also protects household animals from wildlife exposures to rabies (1).
To protect yourself and your family, vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses against rabies. Also, avoid contact with wild or stray animal and be aware of potential signs of an infection. These signs include general sickness, problems swallowing, drooling, an animal appearing tamer than expected, an animal biting everything, or an animal that is having trouble moving (2).
The symptoms of rabies infection start with flu-like, quickly progressing within days to feelings of anxiety, confusion, and agitation. Once you are symptomatic—survival is rare. Rabies is one of the few viruses in the world that can cause 100% fatal illness in humans if left untreated, but it is also preventable (2). The last case of human rabies acquired in Florida was in 1948 (1).
What to do if you’ve been exposed to an animal with possible rabies:
If you have been potentially exposed to rabies (e.g. a bite or scratch from an animal), it is important to wash the affected area with soap and water and to seek medical attention as soon as possible (6). Your doctor will decide if you need to be vaccinated based on your type of exposure, the type of animal, and information about the area where the potential exposure occurred. If your doctor decides that you should receive the vaccination, you will receive a dose of human rabies immune globulin and the rabies vaccine on the day of exposure and the remaining doses on days 3, 7, and 14 days after the first dose (5). After seeking medical care, call the Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Miami-Dade County Epidemiology Disease Control and Immunization Services at (305) 470-5660 and/or Miami-Dade County Animal Control at 311.
What to do if you’re a health care provider of a patient with potential rabies:
If you are a healthcare provider and have a patient with a possible rabies exposure, report the exposure immediately to DOH-Miami-Dade County Epidemiology Disease Control and Immunization Services by phone at (305) 470-5660. Use the decision tree form when deciding whether to initiate post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and follow the PEP guidance. If you are treating a patient with a potential rabies exposure, please be sure to complete the case report form and report it to the DOH-Miami-Dade County Epidemiology Disease Control and Immunization Services via fax at (305) 470-5533 or e-fax (786) 732-8714.
For more information visit:
Rabies Alert (updated as of 01/22/2019):
January 22, 2019
Rabies Alert (updated as of 10/16/2018):
October 16, 2018
Rabies Alert (updated as of 9/17/2018):
September 17, 2018
Rabies Alert (updated as of 9/20/2018):
September 20, 2018
Rabies Alert (updated as of 9/25/2018):
September 25, 2018
To find current alerts, visit our Newsroom
- Florida Department of Health. “Florida Morbidity Statistics Report.” 2016. (Retrieved from: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/disease-reporting-and-management/disease-reporting-and-surveillance/data-and-publications/_documents/2016-fl-msr.pdf.)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Rabies.” February 15, 2012. (Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/rabiesandkids/.)
- Florida Department of Health. “Rabies.” May 16, 2018. (Retrieved from: http://www.floridahealth.gov/%5C/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/index.html.)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What are the Signs and Symptoms of Rabies?” February 15, 2012 (Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/symptoms/index.html.)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What care will I receive?” June 26, 2018. (Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/medical_care/index.html.)
- “When should I seek medical attention?” April 22, 2016. (Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/index.html.)