The Florida Department of Health has issued a rabies alert in Indian River County after a stray cat tested positive for the deadly virus.
Rabies Alert Issued In Indian River County
The alert was issued after a person had been attacked by a full-grown, short-haired, tri-colored brown domestic cat on Sunday, May 13, according to a press release by the Health Department.
The victim was working in their yard when the cat attacked but managed to defend himself using a garden tool. The feline was later captured and tested for rabies, and the results came back positive.
The alert is set for a duration of 60 days and has been issued for the following areas in Indian River County:
- South of State Route 60 also known as 20th Street
- North of Oslo Road also known as 9th Street SW
- East of 66th Avenue
- West of US Highway 1
Health officials have urged residents to get in touch with the Department of Health if they were scratched or bitten by a cat that matches the abovementioned description within the last two weeks in any of the areas where the rabies alert has been issued.
"We strongly advise residents not to approach or feed wild and stray animals, and keep their pets vaccinated," Indian River County Health Officer, Miranda Hawker, said in the press release.
What Is Rabies And How Can It Be Prevented?
Rabies is a deadly virus that is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. The disease, which affects the nervous system, is proved to be fatal for both humans as well as warm-blooded animals.
However, treatment started immediately after being exposed to rabies can protect a person from the disease. Therefore, people who have been bitten by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention immediately.
It is advised not to feed wild or stray animals and not to leave pet food outside or leave garbage or trash cans open as it attracts unwanted wildlife.
People must make sure their pets have received vaccinations for rabies and avoid having pets roam freely by following leash laws. If a pet has been attacked or bitten by another animal, it is highly recommended that the owner takes the pet to a veterinarian and report the incident to the local animal control agency.
It is also advised not to adopt wild animals and bring them into the home. Contact the local animal control agency to remove any wild or stray animals from the locality that are injured or exhibiting unusual behavior.