The message from Florida Department of Health in Osceola County is this: watch your pets, and yourselves.
With reports of the first animal reported with West Nile Virus and a rabies-positive bat, health officials want to release important information about mosquito bite prevention and rabies awareness

Since the Zika virus scare in 2016, mosquito bite prevention should be fresh in residents’ minds to also combat West Nile Virus. The easiest thing to remember is “Drain and Cover”.

Drain standing water garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other places where rainwater can collect to prevent pools where mosquitoes can multiply. Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used, can clean bird baths a couple times per week.

If you must work in areas where mosquitoes are present ,wear  shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET, and use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old

To stay safe from rabies — two bats, a coyote and raccoon have been reported rabid in Osceola County in 2019 — all domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided.

Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets, and keep them under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.

Contact Osceola Animal Services (407-742-8000) to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood. Anyone who’s been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Osceola County Epidemiology Program (407-343-2155).

For more information on rabies, go to Florida Health or call the Florida Department of Health in Osceola County at 407-742-8606.