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Rabid cat triggers health alert for downtown/UNF area

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – The Florida Department of Health in Duval County issued a rabies alert Thursday following the discovery of a rabid cat in Downtown and the UNF neighborhood on Jacksonville’s Southside.

The rabies alert extends south by Old Canal Road, north by Blue Stream Drive, west by Interstate 295 East Beltway and east by Cedar Swamp Creek.

Health officials urge pet owners to make sure their pets receive all rabies vaccinations because rabid wild animals can infect animals that have not been vaccinated.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system that can be fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies-specific immunoglobulin and rabies vaccination.

“I’m not from Florida, so everything here has been a red flag for me, so I’m hesitant to be around wildlife here. My eyes are always open,” Kelsey McDonough said.

Dorothy Perry has a dog named Dusty. She said it was scary for her pet and she wanted to take precautions to make sure Perry stayed safe from rabies.

“It’s scary,” Perry said. “It’s really scary because I don’t want them to get it and I don’t want to get it. I’ve already had the shots and it’s not fun. He was attacked at eight months old.

Perry said the dog that attacked Dusty also injured her, making her bleed. And that’s when Perry had his first rabies scare.

“We didn’t know if it was rabies or not. The dog has never been checked. Whoever attacked him,” Perry said.

When people are suspected of being infected with rabies, they must undergo a series of injections to prevent the brain from becoming diseased, which would ultimately lead to the person’s death. Perry said that after the attack, she received painful injections for several weeks.

“They shot into the wound. I had cuts. I almost passed out in the hospital,” Perry said.

The DOH suggests following these tips to stay safe:

  • Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets

  • If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, immediately seek veterinary assistance for the animal and contact the Florida Department of Health in Duval County at (904) 253-1280.

  • Call your local animal control agency to remove all stray animals from your neighborhood.

  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wildlife by leaving pet food outside or open trash cans.

  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.

  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they seem friendly.

  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they may come into contact with people and pets.

  • People 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 Duval County at (904) 253-1280.

For more information, Floridahealth.gov.

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