ZEPHYRHILLS — The Florida Department of Health issued a rabies alert for Pasco County on Friday.
The alert was initially issued for a small area in the southeast part of the county, according to a news release, but a rabies-infested raccoon was found outside those boundaries.
With the disease present in the wild animal population, that means pets are at risk.
County Health Officer Mike Napier said rabies in wild animal populations, specifically raccoons, is more prevalent than people might think.
"We urge you to be responsible pet owners and get your pets vaccinated," Napier said in the release. "And to educate your children to stay away from any raccoons or animals they are not familiar with."
The recent alert is for 60 days, and it includes the following boundaries: west of County Road 535; south of Centennial Road; east of River Glen Boulevard and north of Chancey Road.
"All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes," the release said. "Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans."
To report animal bites, scratches or strays contact Pasco County Animal services at (727) 834-3216, and for concerns about wild animals call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at (863) 648-3203.