Health department issues third rabies alert for northern Hillsborough County

Published Jun. 6, 2017

A Carrollwood-area apartment complex is the third area in northern Hillsborough County to be warned about rabies this year.

The state Department of Health issued the alert for Tampa's 33624 area code after an orange domestic short-hair tabby cat inside the Pinnacle Heights apartment complex tested positive for rabies, the alert said.

It wasn't a feral cat, but one owned by residents on Pinnacle Heights Circle, said health department spokesman Steve Huard. There is little department officials can do to prevent the spread of rabies other than issue a 60-day alert to remind nearby residents, particularly pet owners, to guard against the disease and vaccinate pets, he said.

Never touch feral animals or attract them to your home with unattended garbage or pet food, and never allow a feral animal into your home, Huard said.

"Especially since school is out for the summer, parents should remind their kids not to touch wild, feral animals, even cats or dogs, because if rabies goes untreated in any warm-blooded animal it can kill you," Huard said.

The area under Tuesday's alert is bordered by Ehrlich Road, Casey Road/South Village Drive, State Road 587 and Farmington Boulevard/Canopy Creek Drive. The first two alerts, both stemming from rabid raccoons, were in the Lutz area.

"Raccoons, as cute and furry and fluffy as they are, are actually vicious creatures and should be avoided at all times, everywhere," Huard said.

They are among the most common wild animals to carry the viral disease, according to the health department, along with bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.

Any concerns that a pet has contracted rabies should be reported immediately to the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center at (813) 744-5660. Concerns about human exposure to rabies should be reported to the Hillsborough County office of the Florida Department of Health at (813) 307-8059.