Rabies alert issued for parts of Broward County after cat tests positive

COOPER CITY, FLA. (WSVN) - Health officials issued a rabies alert for parts of Broward County after a cat in the Davie area tested positive for the disease.

The alert, which was issued Friday, includes those living south of Interstate 595, east of SR-823, north of Griffin Road and west of South Pine Island Road.

“Especially if they have outdoor pets, outdoor cats, people that are feeding stray cats need to make sure that just feeding them is not enough,” Dr. Cristina Comartin, of Cooper City Animal Clinic, said. “They need to, preferably, fix them and get them rabies vaccines.”

Officials said a cat tested positive for the disease on Wednesday. Rabies vaccinations are mandatory in the county, and the disease can be fatal to humans who are bitten by an animal infected with it.

“It’s not difficult at all,” Comartin said. “I mean, it just involves taking them to the vet, getting a vaccine.”

When pet owners like Geno Paolini get their pets vaccinated, veterinarians said it protects everyone, not just the animal.

“We make sure he gets his yearly checkups and his rabies shots and everything that he’s required to do every year, so that way he stays healthy, and he can be part of the family,” Paolini said.

Rami Shahmram made sure his beagle-mix Ringo was vaccinated.

“He’s very curious about everything,” he said. “He likes to play with everything.”

Veterinarians said the disease can show up in different ways in animals infected with it.

“Anything neurologic can present in many ways,” Comartin said. “They can be ataxic, falling over, not walking right. There’s one type of rabies that they’re just totally paralyzed. Any type of abnormal neurologic behavior is a sign of possible rabies if there’s no rabies vaccine.”

Officials are advising the public to make sure all of their pets are vaccinated for rabies and to stay away from animals, such as raccoons, bats and foxes, that can carry the disease.

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