Bats and rabies

Springtime is right around the corner, and bats become active and seek locations inside homes and buildings.  The Florida Department of Health in Orange County wants to remind residents to take these simple steps to protect yourself and your family:

  • Never handle bats AND be sure that your kids understand the importance of this
  • Make sure your pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccine
  • Use screens in all open windows
  • Secure any opens to your attic/roof

Bats are not to be disturbed during maternity season that runs from April 15 to August 15. It is illegal to harm or kill bats in Florida, but they can be legally excluded from a building or structure by following effective, recommended practices that protect bats and people. For exclusions of bat colonies, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation at 352-732-1225.

Bats play an important role in the ecosystem, especially in controlling insects and aiding agriculture, and they pose virtually no danger to people who do not handle them, however a small percentage can carry rabies. If you find a bat during daylight hours, it is most likely unhealthy and should be avoided.

If you or a family member has been bitten or scratched by a bat, you should seek medical attention and contact Orange County Animal Services at (407) 254-9150.

Remember, bats belong in nature, not in your hands. If you find a dead bat on your property and you’re certain no human or pet contact has occurred, please take extra precaution when disposing of the bat.

  • Wear heavy gloves, or preferably scoop up the dead bat with a shovel while wearing disposable gloves.
  • Burry the bat at a depth of at least 1 ft. under the surface or dispose of it in the garbage receptacle.
  • If you place it in the garbage, please consider the safety of others and ensure that no accidental contact will be made with the dead bat, by double bagging it in plastic garbage bags.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and dispose of the gloves.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system that can cause paralysis and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. The virus is spread through saliva, and humans may become infected through a bite wound, scratch or exposure of a fresh cut to saliva of a rabid animal.  The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies specific immune globulin and rabies immunization.  Appropriate treatment which is started soon after the exposure will protect an exposed person from the disease.

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