Rabies alert issued for area of Winter Park near Formosa Avenue and Biscayne Drive

This micrograph depicts the histopathologic changes associated with rabies encephalitis prepared using an H&E stain. [Centers for Disease Control]

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County has issued a rabies alert for an area in Winter Park, near Formosa Avenue and Biscayne Drive. 

They said that the alert is in response to a cat that tested positive for the disease. The identified cat may have infected other animals in the area. Contact with feral cats, stray dogs and all wildlife particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes should be avoided.

Residents and visitors in the affected area of Winter Park should know that rabies is present in the wild animal population. Domestic animals who are not vaccinated are at risk. 

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system. It can cause paralysis and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. The virus is spread through saliva. Humans may be infected through a bite wound, scratch, or exposure of a fresh cut to saliva of a rabid animal. 

The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure, will protect an exposed person from the disease. 

  • Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:
  • 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 report the incident to Orange County Animal Services (407) 254-9150.
  • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
  • 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.

Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and contact Orange County Animal Services at 407-254-9150.

This rabies alert is for 60 days or until further notice, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County confirmed.