HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. – The victim of a bat bite in Florida has died of rabies, health officials said.
The Florida Department of Health confirmed that a bat likely transmitted rabies to the victim in Highlands County. Officials did not say when the bite occurred.
Officials said the bite victim, who lived in Highlands County, did not seek treatment.
"It is important to avoid direct contact with wildlife," said Mara Gambineri, spokeswoman of the Florida Health Department. "If you believe you may have been exposed to rabies, including any physical contact with a bat, contact your health care provider and your county health department right away."
Gambineri said it is important for bite victims to receive treatment as quickly as possible.
According to the Florida Department of Health, rabies can cause a nearly 100 percent fatal illness in humans and other mammals.
The virus is present in some wildlife in Florida and can spread to unvaccinated pets, which then pose a high risk to the pet owner and their family.
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.