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60-day rabies alert issued for Polk County after raccoons tests positive

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Posted at 3:22 PM, Nov 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-19 15:27:31-05

BARTOW, Fla. — Health officials have issued a rabies alert for parts of Polk County after raccoons tested positive for rabies last week.

The Florida Department of Health in Polk County (DOH-Polk) issued the 60-day rabies alert for Bartow and Loughman areas.

"All residents and visitors in Polk County should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population, and domestic animals are at risk if not vaccinated," DOH Polk said in a release. "The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in Polk County. Alerts are designed to increase awareness in the public. Please be aware that rabies activities can also occur outside the alert area."

The center of the rabies alert in the Bartow area includes the following boundaries:

  • North boundary Georgia Street
  • South boundary Mann Road
  • East boundary U.S. 17
  • West boundary Mary Holland Park Road

The center of the rabies alert in the Loughman area includes the following :

  • North boundary Kinney Harmon Road
  • South and East boundary Providence Golf Club
  • West boundary U.S. 17

Residents and visitors should take the following precautions:

  • Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets and at-risk livestock
  • Do not allow your pets to run free. Follow leash laws by keeping pets and livestock secured on your property. If your pet or livestock is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control at (863) 499-2600
  • Support animal control in efforts to reduce feral and stray animal populations
  • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with outdoor food sources such as uncovered trash 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

The rabies alert comes a day after the Polk County Sheriff's Office said a 15-year-old boy was bitten by a raccoon in Davenport.

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The Davenport incident marked the 10th rabies case to happen in the county. DOH-Polk did not say if the Bartow-Loughman case would be the 11th case of if it was in response to a previous case.

If you think you or your pet has had an "exposure," please contact the PCSO Animal Control Section at 863.577.1762.