TAMPA — A bicyclist in the Palm River area was bitten by a raccoon Friday morning, the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County said.
Now the department is concerned the animal had rabies and is searching for the bicyclist.
"While it is impossible to determine if this raccoon is ill, these animals are known carriers of rabies," said Ryan Pedigo, a spokesperson for the department.
Rabies is treatable but only within days after being infected. If not, the virus can be fatal.
"The bite victim should seek medical attention immediately," Pedigo said.
A car hit the raccoon during the early hours of Friday, Pedigo said.
The bicyclist stopped to try and help the creature, but the raccoon was aggressive and may have bitten the person, Pedigo said.
The Health Department asks anyone who has information to call them at 813-307-8000.
In the first three months of this year, four rabid animals infected 11 people and one dog with the disease, the Health Department said.