A cat tested positive for rabies and bit two people near Palmetto Wednesday.

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Manatee County issued a 60 day rabies alert Thursday night after two people were bit from an infected cat.

“We feel that the public should be aware that we do have rabies in our animal population which is why we like people to have our domestic animals vaccinated through their veterinarian,” said Thomas Larkin, Environmental Manager at the DOH Manatee County. 

The center of the alert is the Palm View area of Palmetto. The county is stressing the importance of vaccinating your pets.

“Our domestic animals are basically our first line of defense for rabies. Because our domestic animals might interact with wild animals because they might interact in the yard. So by having our animals vaccinated from rabies that is the first line of defense to protect humans from the disease,” said Larkin.

“They are finding that cats are more common just because they do tend to be out in the wild roam a little more freely and people don’t realize the risk,” said Kelly Barrett, Nurse Practitioner.

While this alert should be taken seriously, rabies is extremely rare. Manatee County had one case with a raccoon in 2022 and this is the first case this year.

“One of the reasons why it is so rare is that we are so good at vaccinating our animals to prevent it," said Barrett.

If you do come in contact with an animal you think has rabies, it is extremely important to seek medical attention right away.

“If you come in contact with an animal in our world means they have been bitten or scratched by the animal,” said Larkin. 

“When somebody seeks medical care after a bite that is suspicious generally they’re given a vaccination right away as well as an immune globulin which basically prevents the disease from taking hold,” said Barrett. 

According to the DOH, the two infected people caught it early and are under medical care.

The DOH Manatee County put out precautionary measures for residents and visitors. Do not leave pet food out in the yard because it will attract wild animals. Follow leash laws and keep your pets on your property. And never bring wild animals inside your home.

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