GIBSONTON – A man in Gibsonton shot and killed a rabid tabby cat who attacked him on Thursday, according to a Florida Department of Health press release in Hillsborough
Agency spokesman Kevin Watler said the man was at bushes passed by near Nundy Avenue as the brown-haired and black-haired domestic cat jumped out of the house and grabbed his foot. He shot at the cat, said Walter.
The victim is being treated for rabies, a potentially fatal nervous system disorder. He is expected to recover.
A 60-day rabies alert was issued for the area north of Symmes Road to the Alafia River and east to west between East Bay Road and US 41
Rabies cases in Hillsborough County have been spiked in 2018, according to the health department. In 2018, nine rabid animals have exposed 20 people and four dogs to the disease. Of these animals, six were cats, two were bats, and one was a raccoon. In July, a woman in the Sun City Center was bitten by a rabid bat clinging to a parking lot on her arm. She did not know it was there until she came home, she told DOH at that time.  In 2017, DOH said that only three rabid animals had exposed 10 people.
"We know that there are more animals out there who can have it," Watler said. "The numbers are definitely much higher than in previous years."
Anyone who suspects that they have been exposed to the virus by a rabid animal is encouraged to contact the Department of Health at (813) 307-8000. If pets are suspected of exposure, contact the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center at (813) 744-5660.
Daniel Figueroa IV can be reached at [email protected] Follow @Danuscripts