What you should do if you come across high-risk wildlife.
This week, a bat that tested positive for rabies was found outside a store at the Gulf Gate Plaza. The Florida Department of Health in Collier County is looking for what is believed to be a Swiss couple that brought it in. They want to evaluate their health.
This comes in the aftermath of another story out of Orlando. The Orlando Sentinel reported a six year old boy’s father brought home a sick bat he found while working maintenance at his job. Apparently, the kid loved wildlife and couldn’t resist getting a closer look at the bat. Soon after, he contracted rabies and passed away.
The timing of these two stories is coincidence.
“There’s really only, I believe the CDC reports maybe two deaths from rabies in the United States on an annual basis. It’s not something that’s common in the U.S.,” said Terri Harder, the epidemiology program manager with DOH-Collier.
“We’re urging the community always not to handle wildlife. If you do find an animal and you capture it, we want to make sure there’s a barrier between you and the animal.”
Harder said once symptoms start, rabies is usually fatal. That’s why she said it’s important to get evaluated immediately.
“Go to a local hospital emergency department. They would be able to evaluate you and start you on the rabies vaccine series,” said Harder.
According to Harder, you’d get an injection of human rabies immune globulin and then four rabies vaccines over two weeks.