TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control confirmed Tuesday that there have been eight positive rabies cases this year. This brings the total number of cases to 10 across Tampa Bay, and 8 On Your Side is learning that these may not be the last cases to be reported.
Four cases involving a bat and four cases involving raccoons have arisen out of Polk County. In Pasco County, one case involved a cat and another came from a racoon.
But bats and raccoons aren’t carrying rabies just around Tampa Bay.
According to the Center for Disease Control, bats were the most frequently reported rabid wildlife species in 2017 at 32.2 percent of all animal cases across the country, followed by raccoons at 28.6 percent.
Tampa Bay has seen a steady rise in rabies cases over the last 10 years, with local counties reporting 18 in the last year.
Rabies cases in Tampa Bay
Hover over the bars to see the number of rabies cases in Tampa Bay*.
*Tampa Bay= Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee, Hillsborough, Hardee, Highlands, Sarasota
Source: Florida Department of Health
Other states are also seeing an increase of reported rabies cases.
According to the Arizona Department of health, by June 2018 more than 80 cases of rabid animals had been reported. By that same time in 2017, only 54 cases had been reported to the state.
The rates haven’t been that high in nearly 10 years.
Colorado’s Department of Health also saw an increase in rabid animals in 2018. The state had 88 reported cases of rabid animals in the wild in 2017, which exposed 113 domestic pets.
The CDC says that the best way to prevent rabies around your home is to vaccinate your pets.
“While wildlife are much more likely to be rabid than are domestic animals in the United States, people have much more contact with domestic animals than with wildlife,” the website says, “Your pets and other domestic animals can be infected when they are bitten by rabid wild animals, and this type of ‘spillover’ increases the risk to people.”