Health officials are warning people to protect themselves and their pets after a rabies outbreak in Jacksonville Beach.
The Florida Department of Health issued a rabies alert for Jacksonville Beach through Aug. 11 after a rabid cat was found in the area.
Officials said the alert is in effect for the area on the south by Osceola Avenue at Blue Heron Lane, on the north by Seagate Avenue at Penman Road, on the west by the Intracoastal Waterway at Beach Boulevard, and east by Atlantic Ocean at Beach Boulevard.
Rabies is a nervous system disease that is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans.
Health officials said an animal with rabies can infect other wild animals or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated.
Officials are warning pet owners to maintain control of their pets at all times and make sure they have received rabies immunization shots from a licensed veterinarian.
Officials are also urging people to avoid contact with wildlife, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.
The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies-specific immune globulin and rabies immunization.
Health officials shared the following guidelines:
• Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.
• If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact the Florida Department of Health in Duval County at (904) 253-1280.
• Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
• Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals by leaving pet food outside, or garbage cans open.
• 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 report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Duval County at (904) 253-1280.
© 2018 Cox Media Group.