ORLANDO, Fla. - A 6-year-old Eustis boy has died of rabies he contracted after being scratched by an infected bat.
The father of Ryker Roque told NBC that the boy died Sunday at an Orlando hospital.
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Henry Roque said he had found a sick bat, put it in a bucket and told his son not to touch it, but the boy did and was scratched.
Henry Roque said he washed the wound thoroughly but didn't take the boy to the hospital because he cried when he was told he would get shots. About a week later, the boy developed numb fingers and a headache so his parents took him to a hospital for treatment.
Ryker was a graduate of Christian Academy Preschool in 2016. The school released a statement on Facebook saying Ryker was a "happy and quiet little boy adored by teachers and classmates."
Students will host a fundraiser for Ryker on Jan. 19.
Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms develop. A vaccine given after a wound but before symptoms almost always prevents the disease.
The main wildlife sources of rabies in Florida are raccoons and bats. Outside cats are by far the most common domestic animal found to have rabies in the state of Florida because they are often not kept up to date on vaccinations.
Dogs, cats, and ferrets are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies in Florida.
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