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Rabies Warning Extended in Southwest Miami-Dade

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KENDALL (CBSMiami) -- The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade is warning residents of SW Miami-Dade that a 3rd raccoon has tested positive for rabies in the area and an ongoing warning has been extended for an additional 60 days.

The boundaries for the alert are:

SW 152 Street to the south
SW 187 Street to the north
SW 117 Ave. to the west
SW 137 Ave to the east

The Florida Department of Health is working alongside Miami-Dade Animal Services to identify any individuals who might have been exposed to the animal. Health officials warn residents and visitors that any animal with rabies could infect another animal that has not been vaccinated against the disease. Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans.

There are vaccinations and medications should someone be exposed to rabies, but health experts warn that a person needs to be treated soon after the exposure.

The warning area encompasses a wide area filled with businesses, neighborhoods, Zoo Miami and the Larry & Penny Thompson Memorial Park. At the park Saturday, Alfonso Ocasio and his family enjoyed a picnic. But they had a frequent raccoon visitor looking for food.

"He was just adamant about coming in the shed where we were," Ocasio said.

The raccoon that tried to invade the Ocasio's outing did not show any signs of being rabid. He appeared to be hungry. But Ocasio says he had no idea about an ongoing rabies alert in the area.

"First time I ever hear about it," he said.

And that concerns him. CBS 4 News drove around the park and didn't see warning signs or notifications anywhere, including at the front entrance. Ocasio says that's a must.

"At least in the beginning when you enter the gates," he said.

Experts say a rabid raccoon could appear:

*Aggressive or lethargic
*Disoriented or confused
*Unafraid of noises
*Difficulty walking
*Drooling and frothing at the mouth

Residents and visitors are urged to:

* Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets
* Keep a close watch on your animals so they limit contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal call Miami-Dade Animal Services at 311.
* Do not handle, feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with garbage cans or litter.
* Do not leave food out for wildlife
* Call 311 to report stray dogs in your neighborhood
* Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic.

CBS 4 News last reported on this on July 4 when health officials issued an alert about a 2nd rabid raccoon.

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