JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

After two people trying to handle a stray cat were exposed to rabies, the Duval County Health Department issued an alert covering part of Arlington and the Southside.

Authorities say the two victims were bitten and scratched as they tried to get the cat out from under a car.  The cat died shortly after the encounter and both victims were getting rabies vaccinations.

The alert covers an area bordered on the south by Woodpine Drive at Donnawood Drive, on the north by Leon Road at Atlantic Boulevard, on the west by Ivey Road at Hidden Village Drive, and east by Alden Road at Alden Trace Boulevard West. 

Health officials said it's often hard to tell by looking if an animal has rabies.

"In a lot of cases the animals can appear aggressive, or some wild animals appear tame, so it’s unclear if they have rabies or not," said Scott Turner of the Health Department.

This is the first rabies alert of the year in Jacksonville and remains in effect through October 8.

If you a see an animal you think is rabid or if your pet comes into contact with one, call the Florida Department of Health in Duval County at 904-253-1280.

If you own a pet, experts suggest you keep their rabies vaccinations up to date, and if you are bitten or scratched by an animal, seek medical attention immediately.