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Health Officials Issue Rabies Alert

By Pamela Acosta-Torres

August 12, 2021


August 12, 2021

Pamela Acosta-Torres, Public Information Officer
(863) 578-2146


Bartow - The Florida Department of Health in Polk County (DOH-Polk) is revising a rabies alert, originally issued for the Green Swamp area north of Polk City on July 23. The revised alert will be extended to 60 days beginning today, following a second fox that tested positive for rabies this week. This extension now includes boundaries for the following area:

  • North boundary — Polk/Lake County border
  • South boundary — County Road 557A
  • East boundary — Brown Shinn Road
  • West boundary — Van Fleet Trail

All residents and visitors in Polk County should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population, and domestic animals are at risk if not vaccinated. The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in Polk County. Alerts are designed to increase awareness to the public. Please be aware that rabies activities can also occur outside the alert area.

An animal with rabies could infect domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies. All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats, and coyotes. Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. 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 and at-risk livestock
  • Do not allow your pets to run free. Follow leash laws by keeping pets and livestock secured on your property. If your pet or livestock is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact Polk County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control at (863) 499-2600
  • Support animal control in efforts to reduce feral and stray animal populations.
  • 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 outdoor food sources such as uncovered trash 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 report the injury to DOH-Polk at (863) 519-8300.

For further information on rabies, go to, or contact DOH-Polk at (863) 519-8300.

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The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, (link opens in new window) works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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