Health Department: Rabies alert issued in Plant City after 7 exposed to rabid cat

PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) - 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.

A rabies alert will remain in effect for 60 days in the areas surrounding Holly Bluff Ct. area near Plant City, including the following boundaries.

  • North boundary: East Alexander Street
  • West boundary: James L Redman Parkway
  • East boundary: Jap Tucker Road and Jim Johnson Road
  • South boundary: East Sparkman Road

The positive rabies result for the 2-year-old wild black and white, domestic short-haired cat 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, the agency said.

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.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following 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 and contact the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center at (813) 744-5660.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
  • 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 and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County at (813) 307-8059.

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