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Doctors Lake residents warned of feral cat with rabies

Clay County health advisory to last for 60 days

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GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Clay County Health Department issued a rabies advisory Wednesday for the Doctors Lake area for Orange Park after officials said a person was bitten by a feral cat, which tested positive for rabies.

"All residents and visitors in Clay 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 Clay County. Advisories are designed to increase awareness to the public, but they should not give a false sense of security to areas that have not been named as under an advisory."

The rabies advisory will be in effect for 60 days. The center of the rabies advisory is at Doctors Lake area of Orange Park, and includes the following boundaries in Clay County:

•    North of Doctors Lake
•    West of the St. Johns River
•    East of Blanding Boulevard

An animal with rabies could infect other wild 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 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. 
•    Keep your pets under direct supervision 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 and contact Clay County Services at 904-269-6342. 
•    Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood. 
•    Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans 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 Florida Department of Health in Clay County at 904-529-2800, option 5, then option 1. 

For further information on rabies, go to the Florida Department of Health's website or call the Clay County office at 904-529-2800 or Clay County Animal Control at 904-269-6342.