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ALERT: Local Cat Tests Positive For Rabies

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The Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County has issued an urgent rabies alert for the Navarre area. The alert stays in effect for the next 60 days and warns residents to be on high alert for animals infected with rabies in the area.

The cat was confirmed to have rabies over the weekend and is a reminder that all pets should be vaccinated against the virus, regardless of whether or not the law requires it. Health officials urge the public to understand and look for symptoms of rabies, which include drooling and excessive salivation, a general ill-appearance, lethargy, difficulty swallowing, and a more docile, tame attitude in wildlife.

Rabies is known to be present in the wildlife population in the area, but house pets are rarely affected unless they are not vaccinated. Wildlife officials caution the public to contact them if they come into contact with the following animals: bats, foxes, raccoons, coyotes, skunks, bobcats and otters. They also ask the public to bring pet food indoors overnight and secure trash cans to keep wildlife from searching for food on their properties.

According to WEAR TV, the Florida Department of Health issued the following guidelines:

  • Vaccinate pets against rabies and keep vaccinations up to date.
  • Keep pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If a pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact Santa Rosa County Animal Services at 850-983-4680.
  • Call animal control services to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
  • Bring in pet food at night and secure trash cans with fasteners, or place trash containers in the garage, so they do not attract wild or stray animals.
  • 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 Santa Rosa County at 850-983-5200.

The state of Florida also recommends vaccinating at-risk livestock. For more information about rabies and about Florida’s precautionary guidelines, visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/index.html.

No matter where you live, it’s important to take this advice into consideration, especially if you have a four-legged family member. A little awareness and precaution can go a long way!

(h/t: WEAR TV)

Written by Katie Finlay
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