Cat tests positive for rabies in Gadsden County

(WCTV)
Published: Apr. 4, 2019 at 12:04 PM EDT
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By: Sophia Hernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News

April 4, 2019

QUINCY, Fla. (WCTV) – Our pets are like family, and as such, we will do anything to keep them safe and healthy. That's why the Quincy Animal Hospital has warned owners in Gadsden County of a rabies alert in the area.

The alert was brought to light after a cat became the first confirmed rabies case for the county in the past five years.

Veterinarians at the Quincy Animal Hospital say this is a good reminder to make sure your animal is up to date on its vaccines. Although it's the first domestic animal rabies case they have seen, it is always important to take the necessary precautions.

For Dr. Larry Helm of the Quincy Animal Hospital, this case is a rarity,

"First case I've diagnosed in 30 years."

A cat was brought into the hospital last week, and as Helm states, was not acting like its usual self.

He said, "I've met the cat a couple of times, and it was a fairly wild cat and it presented a little dull, it didn't present itself like it had previously."

Those symptoms were the signs of rabies, which was confirmed after the hospital had to put the cat down and conducted various tests.

Fellow pet owners, like Angel Granger, say, "I am not surprised because so many people do let their cats run feral and don't vaccinate."

A map by the Florida Health Department illustrates the number of rabies cases found in Florida as of February 2019. It shows that the more densely populated counties see cases more frequently.

Helm notes that just because Gadsden County does not have cases often, they are no stranger to them in the area,"It's just because there's no human interaction, they are never diagnosed. They live, they die. When they are in the middle of the woods and no one ever finds out about them, or it doesn't affect domestic animals because they are in the wild."

Although scary, there are preventative measures, such as vaccinations, that give pet owners like Granger peace of mind, "Animals depend on us to take care of them, so you as an owner need to be responsible for your animal, and don't put them in jeopardy."

The hospital hopes that those in the county remain calm, "It's too early to say if it's an epidemic. One case is just one case. And there's been rabies in our county, it just didn't happen to be a domestic cat."

Helm expresses that taking the necessary precautions is what's important, "So, it's around, it's always been around. This just brings home that it's important to vaccinate your animals whether there's a case or not."

Helm hopes this case incentivizes others to vaccinate their pets, as they can also transmit the disease to their owners.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News April 4, 2019 QUINCY, Fla. (WCTV) – Veterinarians at the Quincy Animal Hospital are warning pet owners after a cat tested positive for rabies. The cat was brought to the hospital earlier this week with rabies symptoms. Veterinarians euthanized the animal and alerted the health department. Testing confirmed that the cat had rabies. Thursday afternoon, the Department of Health issued a rabies alert for the central region of Gadsden County. The rabies alert is for an area south of I-10 in Quincy and includes Old Federal Road north of Spooner Road, extending to Highway 268 and High Bridge Road in the area west of Joe Budd Wildlife Management Area. The rabies alert will remain in effect for 60 days. Officials at the animal hospital say it’s the first confirmed rabies case in Gadsden County in about five years. Pet owners are advised to make sure their animals are up to date on their rabies vaccines. For more information on rabies and how to protect yourself, visit www.floridahealth.gov.