After bobcat attack, family claims there’s a rabies vaccine shortage

(Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission)
(Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission)

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — It was a terrifying moment, caught on camera. Karen Morse will never forget the day a bobcat with rabies walked through the front door of her North Port home. “You can hear everybody screaming. We were all in here, six of us, screaming,” Morse said.

The ferocious feline tore through the house and attacked not only the family dog, Sammie, a five-pound Italian greyhound, but also a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer. The bobcat also marked its territory in the kitchen.

“The cat urinated on my tile floor, and my son and I were cleaning it up, and we were exposed (to rabies),” Morse said.

RELATED: Rabies Alert in effect in parts of Sarasota County

Right now, all six family members, including Karen’s grandsons from Charlotte, North Carolina, are being treated for rabies. The wildlife officer and Sammie the dog are also undergoing treatment. The treatment consists of a series of shots that lasts for two weeks.

The family maintains they were sent to four different hospitals in Sarasota County. They claim a Venice hospital didn’t have enough of the rabies vaccine. So, 8 Your Side went looking for answers.

News Channel 8 went straight to the Sarasota County Health Department. News Channel 8 asked if an influx of rabies patients came into area hospitals, would there be enough of the vaccine to be administered?

“We have always have plenty of vaccine. We always have on hand at least 20 doses. If we run out, should we need more, we can get access to it within a day,” Donna Keith, the Sarasota County immunization manager, explained.

“We definitely have enough stock to treat patients who show up to our hospital,” Sarasota Memorial Hospital emergency room pharmacist Eileen Shomo said.

Experts told News Channel 8 there are factors to keep in mind. Only those who come into direct contact with a rabid animal need to be treated, and the rabies shots can cost up to $3,000 per person. Often, insurance companies will not foot the bill for the entire amount, and patients end up paying out of pocket.

 

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