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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Arlington residents are urged to be cautious following the discovery of rabid cat. This is Duval County's first rabies alert of the year.

Scott Turner, Environmental Director of the Florida Department of Health in Duval, said two people were trying to get a rabid stray cat from underneath a vehicle.

"When they were handling the animal, both victims were bitten or scratched. The animal was taken to animal control where it later died," he said.

Turner said the cat tested positive for rabies.

"That's scary. Really scary," said Sherry Hendricks, who lives inside the alert zone.

Her roommate Michael Aldridge said he was not too concerned

"We're pretty careful, but there's always that chance. So, you do need to be on the lookout."

Although he said he is concerned for neighborhood children.

"There's a chance that they could not be paying attention and be bit by rabid animals. We'll definitely be paying attention and let them know to be very very careful," he said.

Pet owners are encouraged to maintain control of their pets at all times and be certain they are each immunized by a licensed veterinarian.

"To protect yourself, you need to avoid any stray or wild animals," said Turner. "Rabies is a very preventable disease. It's not something to be feared. It's just something to be aware of."

The alert area is 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 Trace Boulevard West.

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The Florida Department of Health in Duval County shares the following advice:

  • Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.
  • If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact The Florida Department of Health in Duval County at (904) 253-1280.
  • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals by leaving pet food outside, or garbage cans open.
  • 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 Duval County at (904) 253-1280.

To learn more about rabies from the Florida Department of Health, click here.

Click here to learn more about rabies from the Centers for Disease Control

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