The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County is reminding residents to protect themselves against rabies after several residents came in contact with a rabid cat around February 15, 2018. A rabies alert will remain in effect for 60 days in the areas near Plant City,
The black and white domestic short-haired cat, estimated to be about 2 years old, was feral. A Good Samaritan saw that it appeared to be injured and took it to a local animal rescue shelter for treatment. After arriving, the cat began to display abnormal behavior. The shelter then decided to test the cat for rabies and the results were positive. This is the first confirmed case of rabies reported in Hillsborough County this year.
A total of seven people were exposed, including the person who rescued the cat, a family member and five people at a local animal shelter. Those individuals were advised to start treatment for rabies immediately.
In Florida, the presence of rabies is mostly found in raccoons, bats, and unvaccinated cats. Foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats, and coyotes are also at risk.
While we’re located some distance from Plant City, residents of St. Petersburg are wise to take the following advised precautions:
- Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.
- If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
- Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans.
- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
- Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
- Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they might come in contact with people and pets.
- Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention.