Rabies alert issued after 3 people are attacked by rabid cat in Hillsborough County

TAMPA — A rabies alert was issued in Hillsborough County after a stray rabid cat attacked three people.

The cat was located near the 4500 block of W. Knollwood St. in Tampa.

The attack was unprovoked and the three victims were all related, and they are receiving treatment.

It is not known if others had contact with the brown tabby, domestic shorthair cat.

The rabies alert is for 60 days. The boundaries are:

 North - Waters Avenue
 South - Hillsborough Avenue
 East - Dale Mabry Highway
 West - Veterans Expressway

If someone was in the boundary and was bitten, scratched, or exposed to the saliva of a cat fitting the description or any wild animal, they are encouraged to contact DOH-Hillsborough on (813) 307-8059 and visit their preferred healthcare provider.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans.

People should avoid contact with any animal that lives in the wild. Some may be tempted to feed or help the animal, but it isn't worth the risk. The only definitive way to determine if an animal has rabies is a lab examination. Last year, three animals exposed ten people.

In 2018, Hillsborough County has identified eight rabid animals (five cats, two bats and one raccoon) that exposed 18 people and four domestic dogs to the disease. 

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 encounter 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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