Updated Rabies Alert Narrowed To Bayou Chico: Rabid Stray Cat Attacks Two People

May 28, 2019

UPDATE: The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County now says a rabies alert issued due to a stray cat is for the Bayou Chico area.

The alert is in response to a report of a positive test result for rabies in a cat on May 25, 2019, which follows a positive test on a raccoon found in the same area in January 2019.

All residents and visitors in Escambia County should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population and domestic animals are at risk if not vaccinated. The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in Escambia County. Alerts are designed to increase awareness to the public, but they should not give a false sense of security to areas that have not been named as under an alert.

The rabies alert will last for 60 days and covers the area in southern Escambia County, surrounding Bayou Chico, that lies south of West Jackson Street between New Warrington Road and Pace Boulevard.

Previous story:

A rabid stray cat attacked two people in Escambia County recently, prompting a rabies alert.

The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County collected tissue samples from the cat and forwarded the samples to the state laboratory, which confirmed the presence of the rabies virus.

The health department is urging residents and visitors to protect themselves from the risk of rabies exposure by avoiding contact with wild and stray animals.

Rabies is a viral disease that infects the central nervous system. Without proper treatment, rabies can cause brain infection and death. Rabies is transmitted by a rabid animal by a bite, a scratch, or by contact with mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, or mouth. A series of “rabies shots” can protect a bite victim from developing the rabies infection, if given soon after the bite occurs.

“Rabies is a fatal infection but is preventable,” notes FDOH-Escambia’s director, Dr. John J. Lanza. “It is important to not feed or pet wild and stray animals, to avoid animals that appear to be acting strangely, and to keep pets vaccinated against rabies. Persons who are bitten by a wild animal or an animal who has not been vaccinated against rabies should seek immediate medical care. Proper medical treatment of an animal bite can be life-saving.”

In Florida, raccoons, foxes, bats, and cats are the animals most frequently diagnosed with rabies. Other animals that are at high risk for rabies include dogs, bobcats, skunks, and otters. Because of their proximity to people, stray and unvaccinated cats and dogs pose a special risk.

Individuals cannot always tell if an animal has rabies by looking at it. To guard against rabies, the health department recommends residents follow these steps:

  • Teach your children not to go near wild and stray animals, and never keep them as pets.
  • Vaccinate your dog, cat, ferret, or horse to protect against rabies. Keep vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Do not feed your pets outside. The food may attract wild animals.
  • Make sure your garbage is securely covered. Open garbage attracts wild and stray animals.
  • Spay or neuter your pet to reduce its tendency to roam or fight.
  • Do not let your pets roam freely or allow them to interact with wild or stray animals. Keep them in a fenced yard or on a leash at all times.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they might come into contact with people and pets.
  • Call Escambia County Animal Control, at 850-595-0097, to remove stray dogs and cats from your neighborhood.
  • If your pet is bitten by another animal, immediately seek veterinary assistance for your pet and contact Escambia County Animal Control.
  • If you are bitten by a wild animal, or by any animal that is acting strangely, seek medical care as soon as possible so that a physician can evaluate your risk of rabies infection and administer the rabies vaccine, if appropriate.

DOH-Escambia’s Environmental Health division investigates animal bite reports, tests animals for rabies through the state laboratory, and orders animal quarantine as necessary. For more information, or to report an animal bite, contact the FDOH-Escambia Environmental Health office at (850) 595-6700 or visit www.EscambiaHealth.com.

File photo.


27 Responses to “Updated Rabies Alert Narrowed To Bayou Chico: Rabid Stray Cat Attacks Two People”

  1. Good Neighbor on May 29th, 2019 7:36 am

    So why with two incidents in same area would they wait a week to disclose location? Glad they put it out finally. Wonder why they allowed a countywide concern to blow up….even with boundaries, one should be vigilant throughout county, but in disclosed areas you would be extra careful.

  2. Suzie B on May 28th, 2019 1:38 pm

    Thanks again William for the UPDATE!! I hope others will read the updates and see the location.

  3. Bernie D Silcox on May 26th, 2019 4:39 pm

    Ok ,you will not tell us where they are,So I & family have large area of woods by our home 140 ac + I will just have to take care of every feral cat I see.Note Cat owners make sure your cat has a collar with tags.I dont want to trap someones pet.Because the Health Dept. has no idea of telling us the truth. Like a couple yrs ago they killed a little bear down in Cantonment for no reason could have been darted & Removed over to Perdido Rv. Watershead. Another Govt. mess-up

  4. molino jim on May 26th, 2019 2:47 pm

    As William has said the health dept. does not release the information on just the one area. The general information is a warning about stray / wild animal in general. Santa Rosa has reported a case in the last few days. Please read the part about “collecting tissue samples from the cat” You may recall the cases in Ala. of the foxes biting people on a golf course last year– all of the foxes were found to have rabies.Just be aware of a wild animal who is not afraid. Plus get your animals shots to protect them.

  5. Suzie B on May 26th, 2019 2:39 pm

    William thank you for giving some information that explains their policy a little which does not provide exact location. Although it appears that this particular animal was caught, the spread may have already occurred in other areas due to roaming so caution is needed everywhere along with pets being vaccinated.

  6. William on May 26th, 2019 12:25 pm

    >>William, I know this is the health department policy and has been for a while. Do you know what their rationale is for this policy?

    They’ve offered me some explanation on previous rabid animals. They want everyone to use caution and practice their “tips” about wild/stray animals. If there’s one, there’s another rabid animal. They don’t want people to hear, for example, Molino and think there’s no danger in Cantonment or Ensley.

    Then you consider the range of the animal…they travel X number of miles, infect another animal that travels X number of miles, and repeat process. Now you have a rabid animal miles and miles away from the original location.

  7. Tee-bug on May 26th, 2019 12:04 pm

    I do not understand what the big deal is about them wanting to keep this hush hush it would actually help more than it would hurt would someone please give me there input on this I am sure there must be a reason but I can’t see it

  8. Sue on May 26th, 2019 11:46 am

    Please! We need to know what area of the rabid cat! You create fear mongering by putting all the details of what rabies will do to a person but you won’t tell us the area so we can be extra careful!

  9. Matt on May 26th, 2019 11:23 am

    That makes no sense… be on the lookout, also, we can not release the area it happened?!?!

  10. Dave Turner on May 26th, 2019 11:22 am

    Wow… what good is the “health” department if it has certain information about rabid animals and will not release it. If I’m bitten by a rabid cat and it turns out it’s the same area of either of the two previous bites, I WILL sue the health department for everything it’s worth and punitive damages. How ignorant can the government actually be? Lol

  11. Charlene R Ward on May 26th, 2019 11:06 am

    People need to stop feeding the feral cats and attracting them, that will help solve the problem

  12. Misty on May 26th, 2019 10:21 am

    It doesn’t help that animal control lacks resources to remove stray cats from the community. Instead they require the citizens to purchase traps to trap them themselves. Now citizens are at even more risk attempting to trap animals with fatal illnesses? We have at least 200 stray cats in our mobile home community and a big problem if the not so nice neighbors catch people attempting to trap them for the sake of population control. Catch and releasing fixed Tom cats is not helping the situation. With all the strays, dangerous predators like alligators, snakes and Raptors are on the rise. So now with an unlimited food supply it’s up to the citizens of the community to fight on all fronts while animal services in our area do the bare minimum. Santa Rosa county has the highest stray population in the entire country with escambia coming in at a close 2nd. I feel terrible about all the strays, i love animals but at the same time i also love my kids, and rabies is dangerous and the cure is horrible if a cure is possible.

  13. Perry on May 26th, 2019 9:08 am

    William, I know this is the health department policy and has been for a while. Do you know what their rationale is for this policy?

  14. Msawyer on May 26th, 2019 9:06 am

    Why is the area not given so folks will be aware?

  15. Mj on May 26th, 2019 8:37 am

    Just for public safety we the citizens of escambia have a right to know the location.

  16. John Caro on May 26th, 2019 8:26 am

    Give the location or admit you just want to scare us.

  17. James on May 26th, 2019 8:21 am

    Kill all cats in Escambia County just to be safe!

  18. Greg Moody on May 26th, 2019 8:19 am

    Why the big secret concerning the location of the attack? You hiding something?

  19. Bella on May 26th, 2019 8:12 am

    Health Dept. will never release the location because they do not want ti cause a panic. I don’t understand that logic at all.

  20. Confused1 on May 26th, 2019 8:02 am

    Not giving a location is a danger to the public. What the heck are they thinking?

  21. Nanette on May 26th, 2019 6:59 am

    We need to know what area this is happening in

  22. Lynn H on May 26th, 2019 6:56 am

    They won’t release that information most likely to prevent people from freaking out and start shooting every cat they see. The article states they collected tissue samples, I assume they have the cat and the article is to remind people of the risks from strays and wild animals.

  23. Christopher Osborne on May 26th, 2019 6:05 am

    So why in the hell yall not telling people where this damn cat at?

  24. Billy G on May 26th, 2019 5:20 am

    South and east of the Alabama state line, west of the Santa Rosa county line and north of the Gulf of Mexico.

  25. William on May 26th, 2019 5:10 am

    “Could you please let us know what area this happened in?”

    The health department will not release that information.

  26. Sharon Colbert on May 26th, 2019 5:07 am

    Could you please let us know what area this happened in?

  27. Michal Payton on May 26th, 2019 2:55 am

    Would be more informative to know which area of Escambia county

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