Florida Department of Health issues rabies alert for Citrus County

rabies alert, citrus county, citrus gazette

The Florida Department of Health in Citrus County (DOH-Citrus) has issued a rabies alert for the Heatherwood area of Inverness. This is in response to a feral cat that tested positive on Friday, December 27, 2019. The cat was tested after it bit an individual on the previous day. Thanks to quick response and medical care, the individual is receiving the postexposure treatment necessary to stop the disease.

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

This rabies alert is for 60 days. The center of the rabies alert is at the intersection of E. Heatherwood St. and S. Hammock Ave., and includes the following boundaries in Citrus County:

North boundary – Northern part of S. Vision Circle and Trail 18
East boundary – Lighthorse Circle
South boundary – E. Needham Court
West boundary – S. Brittany Path

An animal with rabies could infect 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. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure will protect an exposed person from the disease.

Residents and visitors are advised to 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 are bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Unit at 352-726-1121.
  • 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.

Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the DOH-Citrus at 352-527-0068.