Hillsborough rabies alert, cat tests positive

Posted at 12:01 PM, Feb 25, 2016

After a domestic cat tested positive for rabies in Hillsborough County, the Florida Department of Health has issued a rabies alert in the area effective for 60 days. 

The cat is a grey and white tiger domestic short hair. 

According to the release, the boundaries of the alert are as follows:

  • Tampa Bay Trail, East Boundary
  • Hillsborough Ave, South Boundary
  • West Waters Ave, North Boundary
  • Southern Brook Bend, West Boundary

This is the second case of rabies for our area this year. On February 16, another case came out of the Citrus Park area.

Why is this worrisome?

Rabies exists in the wild, so unvaccinated domestic animals are therefore at risk of infection. While you should always avoid letting your pets come into contact with any variety of wild animals, sometimes it may be out of your control. Vaccination is the safest option, according to the health department.

Animals to watch out for include:

  • raccoons
  • bats
  • foxes
  • skunks
  • otters
  • bobcats
  • coyotes

If infected, rabies can be transmitted from your pet to you or any other human. Rabies affects the nervous system and is fatal to all warm blooded animals -- including humans.

There is treatment available to protect you from the disease if you begin soon after exposure, but again, immunization is the safest option. 

What you can do

The following is advice provided by the health department: 

  • 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 by leaving pet food outside, or garbage cans open.
  • 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.