Man, daughter bitten by rabid cat on Southside

Rabies alert will be in effect in the area until October

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Southside man and his daughter have endured a lot of shots with more to come after they were bitten by a rabid cat that's caused a rabies alert in a section of Arlington and the Southside.

It all started when Jason Shepard's 14-year-old daughter noticed a cat under a car in their driveway. She was worried it might get run over, so she called to it.

"It went to her, directly to her, and it bit her, and she told me that it bit her, so I called it over to me and it came over to me purring," Shepard said. "It bounced right over to me like a playful kitten and bit me. With a bit of force too. It wasn't a little play bite."

After they were bitten the two went to the hospital and started getting shots, just in case the cat had rabies.

They had to go back again for booster vaccinations and will have one more set of booster vaccinations next week.

They didn't know they had definitely been exposed to the rabies virus until days after the cat returned.

"The next day we found the cat at my back door and quarantined it," Shepard said. "About five days later it passed away, and we took the cat to the health department, at which point they tested it and called me back last Friday and told me that it did test positive for rabies."

That sent a rabies alert throughout their section of the Southside and Arlington in an area between Beach and Atlantic boulevards near St. Johns Bluff Road. The alert will be in effect until October.

Shepard hopes the cat that bit them was the only infected one, but it's very possible it's not.

"I guess it's just a fact of life," Shepard said. "We kind of live in a relatively remote area and it's just a roll of the dice."

Anyone who comes in contact with an animal they think might be rabid should call the Duval County Health Department at 904-253-1280.

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