PLANT CITY (FOX 13) - Seven people were exposed to a rabid cat in Hillsborough County, according to health officials, and rabies alert has been issued within the exposed area.
According to the Department of Health, a resident found the cat, estimated to be about two years old, in the Holly Bluff Court area near Plant City. It appeared to be injured, so it was taken to a local animal rescue shelter.
While at the clinic, the cat began to act abnormally, health officials say, and was tested positive for rabies.
A DOH found five people at the rescue were exposed to the cat, along with a relative of the person who found the cat.
Employees advised people in the affected area of the rabies warning. They say it is the first time in 2018 that humans were exposed to a confirmed rabid animal in Hillsborough County. In 2017, three animals exposed ten people.
The rabies alert is for 60 days, and includes 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
Health officials say an animal with rabies could infect other wild or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated. They advise pet owners to vaccinate their domestic animals, and all contact with wildlife should be avoided.
Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans. The only treatment for human exposure is “rabies-specific immune globulin and rabies immunization.”
DOH offered 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.