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Second rabid animal found in Winter Park, health officials say

Rabies alert issued for Staunton Avenue, Biscayne Drive

WINTER PARK, Fla. – A second case of rabies was found in the Winter Park neighborhood where Florida Department of Health officials in Orange County issued a rabies alert earlier this month.

The Florida Department of Health said that a cat that attacked people in and around Biscayne Drive and Formosa Avenue in Winter Park tested positive for rabies around March 15. The most recent case was found in a rabid raccoon, health officials said Wednesday.

The Department of Health issued a rabies alert for the area east of Interstate 4, west of Orlando Avenue, south of Lee Road and north of Orange Avenue. Rabies alerts last for 60 days or until further notice from health officials.

Health officials said the raccoon may have infected other animals in the area of Formosa Avenue and Biscayne Drive. Residents are advised to avoid contact with stray cats and dogs and all wildlife.

Several Central Florida counties have issued rabies alerts after finding animals with the disease, some after attacks.

The rabies virus can be spread through saliva, and humans may become infected if they are bitten or scratched or if a fresh cut is exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies-specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. The sooner a person begins treatment, the better.

Anyone who has been bitten or scratched by an animal in the rabies alert area of Winter Park should contact Orange County Animal Services at 407-254-9150 and seek medical attention.

The following are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones against rabies:

• Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.

• Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact the local animal services department.

• Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.

• Do not handle, feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.

• 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.