SUN CITY CENTER, Fla. — A woman is being treated for rabies after finding a small rabid bat clinging to her arm in Hillsborough County.
The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County (DOH-Hillsborough) said the woman was helping a friend into a vehicle on Monday in a parking lot around the 4000 block of Upper Creek Drive in the Sun City Center area when she felt something hit her arm.
They said after she got home she found a small bat clinging to her arm. Immediately, the woman squished the bat with a towel and contacted DOH-Hillsborough.
After testing the bat, they found that it was positive for rabies. The woman is now undergoing treatment.
Anyone in a home or business within a 500-foot radius of where the bat was found is being asked to contact DOH-Hillsborough if he or she believes they may have been exposed.
According to DOH-Hillsborough, rabies exposure in this manner is unusual. Typically, exposure occurs when someone interacts with a stray or wild animal. Anyone who has been bitten, scratched, or exposed to the saliva of any wild animal or an animal that is acting unusual should always report the exposure to their local health department.
Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans.
In 2018, Hillsborough County has had seven rabid animals — four cats, two bats and one raccoon — expose 15 people and four dogs to rabies.
Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:
- Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.
- If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center at (813) 744-5660.
- Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
- Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
- Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they might come in contact with people and pets.
- Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County at (813) 307-8059.