Rabies alert issued for south portion of Indian River County

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – A rabies alert has been issued for a portion of south Indian River County after a person attempting to feed a stray cat was exposed.

The affected area of the county includes east of 74th Avenue SW, west of 27th Avenue SW, south of 1st Street SW, and north of the Indian River-St. Lucie county line.

“You are putting yourself at risk of rabies by feeding stray or wild animals so it best to avoid them,” said Cheryl Dunn, Environmental Manager. “If you are attacked by an animal, report the bite or scratch to animal control and seek medical attention.”

The Indian River County Health Department is emphasizing the importance of rabies prevention, as there has been a confirmed case of rabies in a domestic animal (wild/feral cat) with an associated human exposure.

The Health Department is advising residents to avoid contact with wild or stray animals that can carry rabies.

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that can be prevented but not cured. The virus is spread through saliva and can be passed to another animal or a person, usually through a bite.

Infection may also occur if the saliva enters open wounds, the mouth, or eyes of another animal or person.

There is no treatment for rabies after symptoms of the disease appear. However, the rabies vaccine regimen provides immunity to rabies when given after an exposure or for protection before an exposure occurs. Although rabies among humans is rare in the United States, every year an estimated 18,000 people receive rabies pre-exposure vaccinations, and an additional 40,000 receive vaccinations after being exposed to rabies.

Wild animals or domestic animals (e.g., wild/feral cats, skunks, raccoons and bats) behaving abnormally – such as attempting to interact with or attack pets, stumbling, or acting disoriented – should be reported to the following:

In Indian River County–

(Weekdays from 8 to 5): Indian River County Animal Control at (772) 226-3485, ext. 1446

(Weekends and after hours): 9-1-1

Within City Limits–

City of Vero Beach Police Department: (772) 978-4600

What should you do if an animal bites you?

Seek care promptly after any animal bites you.

Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and running water for five to ten minutes. Go to your family doctor, hospital or county health department for medical attention immediately.

How can I protect myself from getting rabies?

Avoid direct contact with unfamiliar animals:

Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild or stray animals (including cats) with open garbage cans. Enjoy wild animals (raccoons, skunks, foxes) from afar.

Do not feed birds or your pets outdoors as this attracts stray and wild animals.

Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control for assistance. Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

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.

Be a responsible pet owner:

Keep vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats, and ferrets. This requirement is important not only to keep your pets from getting rabies, but also to provide a barrier of protection for you, if your animal is bitten by a rabid wild animal.

Don’t use your hands to break up a fight between animals.

Keep your pets under direct supervision and leashed so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.

Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood. They may be unvaccinated and could be infected by the disease.

Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.

Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood. They may be unvaccinated and could be infected by the disease.

Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.

 

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