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Rabid bat clings to a Florida woman's arm in Hillsborough County

Florida Department of Health urges people to take safety precautions

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SUN CITY CENTER, Fla. – A Sun City Center woman discovered a rabid bat clinging to her arm in on Monday, health officials said. 

The woman was helping her friend into a vehicle when something struck her arm, according to the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough. At the time, she didn't see what it was and went home. 

"While at home she went to the restroom and discovered a small bat clinging to her arm," said spokesperson for DOH-Hillsborough, Kevin Watler, in a news release. "The woman immediately squished it with a towel."

She then contacted the DOH, where they tested the squished bat and discovered it had rabies. 

"Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans," Watler noted.

The victim is now being treated for the disease, according to the DOH. 

DOH-Hillsborough advises anyone who has been bitten, scratched or exposed to the salvia of any wild animal to report it to the local health department. They say to avoid contact with wild animals and to make sure that you don't unintentionally attract them with open garbage cans and litter.  

"Some may be tempted to feed or help the animal, but it isn't worth the risk," Watler wrote. 

In 2018, Hillsborough County alone has reported seven rabid animals (four cats, two bats and one raccoon), which have exposed 15 people to the disease. "It's clear that there are rabid animals living throughout the county and state," Watler said. 

Keep your pets safe as well with up-to-date rabies vaccinations. In the event your pet does get bitten by a wild animal, DOH says to seek veterinary assistance immediately.   

Walter said that it's important to teach children to stay away from unfamiliar animals, both wild and domestic, even of they appear friendly. 

Visit the Florida Health website for more information on rabies. Remember if you've been bitten or scratched by a wild animal, seek medical attention immediately then report the incident to the Department of Health.