SUN CITY CENTER, Fla. (WFLA) – The Hillsborough County health department is warning people in a Sun City Center neighborhood after a rabid bat bit a woman’s arm and clung to it in a parking lot.
A health department spokesperson said the woman was helping her friend into a vehicle on Monday, July 16.
They were in a parking lot in the 4000 Block of Upper Creek Drive in the Sun City Center area.
The woman didn’t see what hit her arm. After arriving at home, she went to the bathroom and discovered a small bat clinging to her arm. The woman immediately squished it with a towel.
DOH-Hillsborough was contacted and tested the bat for rabies. The results came back positive for rabies.
DOH-Hillsborough believe this is an isolated incident. However, if anyone in the 4000 Block of Upper Creek Drive in Sun City Center believes he/she may have been exposed, the should contact DOH-Hillsborough.
The health department said this incident of rabies exposure is unusual, but because DOH-Hillsborough was notified, the victim will be able to begin treatment.
People should avoid contact with any animal that lives in the wild. Some may be tempted to feed or help the animal, but it isn’t worth the risk. The only definitive way to determine if an animal has rabies is a lab examination.
Last year in Hillsborough County, three animals exposed 10 people to rabies.
So far this year, Hillsborough County has identified seven rabid animals (four cats, two bats and one raccoon) that exposed 15 people and four domestic dogs to the disease.
It’s clear that there are rabid animals living throughout the county and state.
An animal with rabies could infect other wild animals or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies. All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats, and coyotes.
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.