KENDALL, Fla. - While rabies is lethal in humans and pets, experts said there are preventive measures that people can take to make sure their family is safe.
Two rabid raccoons were discovered in the last week in Kendall, and health officials are urging people not to panic but to stay vigilant and educated.
"Make sure that people are aware. People don't need to panic. Raccoons have always been there," Dr. Alvaro Mejia-Echeverry said.
Doctors said this isn't an epidemic and a person in Florida hasn't been infected with rabies in more than 70 years.
The initial raccoon with rabies was discovered on Feb. 28, the first in Miami-Dade County in 16 years.
After a second raccoon tested positive for rabies on Saturday, the Florida Department of Health expanded an alert that now encompasses Sunset Drive to the north and Southwest 128th Street to the south. It is bordered by Southwest 87th Avenue on the east and the Turnpike on the west.
Residents are weary after the expansion of the alert.
"Even late at night when I would let her out, I'm fearful," Lana Swanson said of her pet.
Experts advise people to avoid contact with wild animals, avoid leaving their pets outside and to keep backyards as clean as possible.
Garbage containers should also be sealed so that raccoons cannot get into them.
Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County Animal Services is not on the hunt for raccoons and is focused only on educating the public. Should more raccoons with rabies be discovered, Animal Services officials said they will take more proactive measures.
"It's not about killing raccoons or about knowing about how many raccoons are positive in the wildlife, it doesn't add any benefit to the problem," Mejia-Echeverry said. "The problem can get solved if the community understands that raccoons can carry rabies and we should leave them alone."
The alert in Kendall will remain in effect for the next two months.
Click here for more information about rabies from the Florida Department of Health.
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