If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in the next few months, you might want to keep away from any stray animals wandering the grounds. A feral cat in Walt Disney World's Epcot just tested positive for rabies and the local health department is warning people to be careful during the coming months because it could have infected other animals.
The Florida Department of Health in Orange County has issued a 60 day rabies alert for a two-mile radius around Interstate 4 and Epcot Center Drive, bordering the amusement park. The area includes not just much of Epcot, but the Typhoon Lagoon water park and nearby hotels like the Holiday Inn, Hilton, Marriott, Disney’s Caribbean Beach resort, Disney’s Pop Century, and Disney’s Saratoga Springs.
The health department is urging people to stay clear of stray cats and dogs as well as virtually all wildlife. Raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats, and coyotes are all particularly susceptible to rabies as well.
“If you or a family member has been bitten or scratched by a cat in the rabies alert area of southwest Orange County or if you know anyone bitten or scratched by a cat or wildlife, you should seek medical attention and contact Orange County Animal Services at (407) 254-9150,” the health department said in a statement published online.
If you do get bitten by a wild animal in your travels, the Department of Health urges you to wash the area with soap and water and get to a hospital. Rabies is preventable if you can get help quickly.
“Rabies is a disease of the nervous system that can cause paralysis and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans,” the health department warns. “The virus is spread through saliva, and humans may become infected through a bite wound, scratch or exposure of a fresh cut to saliva of a rabid animal. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies specific immune globulin and rabies immunization.”
And if you’re walking around Disney World and Goofy starts looking at you funny with a foamy mouth, maybe call Disney security. Goofy is a dog after all, even if he chose to enslave Pluto for some reason that hasn’t been explained to our satisfaction yet.
The happiest place on Earth, indeed.