JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - The Florida Department of Health in Duval County said Wednesday the cat that sparked a rabies alert in Jacksonville Beach was found within one block of Beach Boulevard and 10 Street North.
That cat has since died and was tested at the DOH-Jacksonville Central Lab, where the test came back positive for rabies.
One local veterinarian told First Coast News pet owners should be concerned about the alert.
“It means that it’s in our stray population locally and it means that you need to make sure that your vet is vaccinated,” said Dr. Avery Silvers, medical director for Pet Doctors of America.
However, Silvers said rabies is rare.
Department of Health data shows there have been four reported rabies cases in Duval County since the beginning of 2014. Because it’s so rare, Silvers said pet owners should focus on other, more common diseases.
“It’s definitely more prevalent in the domestic animal, pet population than rabies,” Silvers said of Leptospirosis, or Lepto, which causes kidney and liver disease and can be transmitted to humans.
Lepto is transmitted by wild animals through their urine into soil or standing water. A dog can get Lepto by drinking the water and put its owner at risk.
“And if we end up handling their urine or unfortunately getting sprayed with it or whatever it may be, we could get it as well,” Silvers said.
There is a vaccine for Lepto and it can be treated with antibiotics.
The best thing pet owners can do, Silvers said, is keep their pets fully vaccinated at all times. If the pet is acting unusual, call the veterinarian immediately.