Health officials in Citrus County issued a rabies alert for the Heatherwood area of Inverness Friday after a feral cat that tested positive for the lethal virus.
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.
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
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.
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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.
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.