A feral cat found dead Saturday, July 6 has been confirmed positive for rabies by the Florida Department of Health State Laboratory.
Two adult women were exposed and were placed on post-exposure rabies shots. Individuals in the area east of Congress, west of Florida Mango between Forest Hill Blvd. and 10th Ave. North are being cautioned to avoid all wild animals, and if they have been bitten, scratched or attacked, to report it immediately.
According to Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control, the two women were feeding birds and cats in the area Wednesday, July 3 when the feral cat, looking sick, approached, scratched and bit both individuals. On July 6, one of the women returned to the site to again feed birds and found the cat dead and turned it over to Animal Care & Control via the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary.
Rabies is a deadly viral disease that can be prevented but not cured. The virus attacks the nerves and brain tissue of warm-blooded animals, including people. Individuals must begin a series of rabies shots within 10 days of exposure to maximize prevention of the disease.
All citizens in Palm Beach 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 the area.
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, wild cats, wild dogs and coyotes.
In addition, officials recommend keeping rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets. 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 Animal Care & Control. Call the local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from neighborhoods.
Residents are urged to not handle, feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into the home. Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
For further information on rabies, contact the Palm Beach County Health Department at www.pbchd.com or call (561) 840-4500. Animals exhibiting signs of sickness and aggressive behavior should be reported to Animal Care & Control at (561) 233-1200.