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Neighborhood Cat Tests Positive For Rabies, Several Exposed

By Kevin Watler, P.I.O.

June 21, 2018

A neighborhood cat that lived around E. Bay Road in the Gibsonton area of Hillsborough County tested positive for rabies. Preliminary investigations revealed the grey tabby domestic shorthair cat exposed at least one adult, one child and one domestic dog. The cat also recently gave birth to several kittens. They will be tested for rabies. The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County (DOH-Hillsborough) is attempting to locate anyone who may have been exposed.

The two people with confirmed exposures have already begun rabies post exposure vaccines. The dog’s rabies vaccinations were up-to-date, but as a precaution, the dog received a booster for rabies and the owner has been asked to quarantine it for 45 days. This means the dog should not have contact with other animals or humans outside of the household during this period.

DOH-Hillsborough will be notifying all homes within a 500-foot radius of where the cat was found. Anyone who has been bitten, scratched, or exposed to the saliva of this cat is asked to report the exposure to DOH-Hillsborough.

This incident serves as a reminder that people should stay away from “neighborhood pets” or any wild animal. Some may be tempted to feed or help the animal, but it isn’t worth the risk. 

DOH-Hillsborough strongly recommends avoiding contact with wildlife or any unknown animal. 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 five rabid animals (three cats, one bat and one raccoon) that exposed 13 people and two domestic dogs to the disease. It’s clear that there are rabid animals living throughout the county and state.

An animal with rabies could infect other wild animals or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies. All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats, and coyotes. Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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